It's a record-breaker: Iowa State University fall enrollment nears 28,000

AMES, Iowa - This fall has ushered in Iowa State University's highest-ever enrollment -- 27,945 students, an increase of more than 4 percent compared to fall 2008.

Iowa State has welcomed 1,089 more students to campus this fall over the previous year: 914 undergraduates, 33 professional (veterinary medicine) students, and 142 graduate students. Last fall's enrollment was 26,856. The second-largest class enrolled at Iowa State was in 2002, with a total enrollment of 27,898.

This year's enrollment exceeds earlier university projections to the Iowa Board of Regents by 895 students. In nearly every respect, fall 2009 is a record-setting year at Iowa State.

By the numbers

The total Iowa State University student body of 27,945 represents:
• A record 3,017 international students, an increase of 520 students from fall 2008. The previous high for international enrollment was 2,692 students in fall 1993.

• A record graduate student enrollment of 4,860, an increase of 142 students from fall 2008. The previous graduate enrollment record was 4,789 in fall 1991.

• A record professional (veterinary medicine) student enrollment of 564, breaking last fall's record high of 531 students.

• A record U.S. minority enrollment of 2,533 students, or 9.1 percent of the overall student body. That's 216 more minority students than in fall 2008. Iowa State has again exceeded the 8.5 percent minority enrollment goal set by the Board of Regents.

• The most diverse student body on record. International and U.S. minority students represent one in five students on the ISU campus. Total international + U.S. minority enrollment is 5,550 students, or 19.9 percent of total enrollment. The previous high was in fall 2008, with 17.9 percent.

• 18,503 Iowa residents, an increase of 355 students from fall 2008.

• 9,442 nonresidents, an increase of 734 students from fall 2008.

• 22,521 undergraduates, an increase of 914 from fall 2008. Of those undergraduates, 16,164 are Iowans - the highest number enrolled since fall 2004.

This fall, Iowa State attracted its largest transfer class since 2001: 1,622 students, up from 1,537 in fall 2008. Of this year's 1,622 transfer students, 982 are Iowa community college transfers - up from 945 last year. ISU also attracted its third-largest freshman class in history: 4,356 students. That's 190 fewer freshmen than in fall 2008.

"The continuing growth in our enrollment is a testament to the high-quality education students receive at Iowa State University," said ISU President Gregory Geoffroy. "We are very proud that we continue to be the university of choice for Iowa high school graduates and community college transfer students, as well as for a large number of out-of-state and international students."

Marc Harding, director of Admissions and Enrollment Services, attributes ISU's jump in enrollment to several factors - a comprehensive recruitment and retention effort that is supported by the entire university community; a strong transfer program with the state's community colleges; and the economy.

"Graduate enrollments tend to rise when the economy is not doing well. And for undergraduates, there is a greater emphasis than ever to seek higher education, because college graduates typically have greater earning power over the course of a lifetime and are less likely to be unemployed. We're also seeing that Iowa families are finding good values here in the state, and those students are coming to Iowa State instead of going out of state for their education," Harding said.

Harding's excitement about the fall 2009 enrollment numbers is tempered by reality, however. He says the admissions process is cyclical. Over the past decade, Iowa State's enrollment has increased during seven of those years, and decreased the other three.

"We anticipate that fall 2010 overall enrollment will decline," Harding said. "One reason is that we are about to graduate some larger classes. Another reason is that the freshman class of 2010 is projected to be smaller. We're already seeing a glimpse of that this fall - the freshman class is the third largest on record, but it's 4 percent smaller than in fall 2008.

"Demographics continue to work against the trend of increasing enrollment. In Iowa and all across the Midwest, the eligible pool of high school students is declining. That means we have to work extra hard just to maintain what we have."

Complete enrollment information is available at: http://www.iastate.edu/~registrar/stats/.