Indiana State University Newsroom

Turning the corner: despite state and national college-going rate challenges, ISU experiences enrollment increases in key areas

August 24, 2022

Indiana State University released enrollment data Wednesday that offer many reasons for optimism as the university turns the corner from the pandemic’s impact throughout higher education.

“This shows that our recruitment strategies are working,” ISU President Dr. Deborah J. Curtis said. “We have been proactive in creating initiatives and responding to the changing landscape of higher education.”

The percentage of new freshmen in the Honors College compared to all new freshmen is the highest in ISU history — 20%. The Honors College had 307 new freshmen, a 21% increase over last year. These data are better than what is seen in national trends.

“These students can go anywhere and usually have offers from many other institutions, but they are disproportionately choosing to attend Indiana State,” said Dr. Christopher Olsen, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “That speaks to the high quality of our academic programs.”

ISU has 2,544 new students. That includes a freshmen class of 1,535 — 7% higher than 2021-22.

University officials said students found The Indiana State Advantage, introduced a year ago, as a unique and highly attractive program in addition to the myriad other benefits of an ISU education.

The Indiana State Advantage offers a grant of up to $3,000 for an out-of-classroom experience; four years tuition-free for Pell-eligible Indiana students with a 3.0 or higher high school grade point average; and a guarantee that students who complete program requirements will graduate in four years or tuition is covered for remaining classes.

Olsen said the Indiana State Advantage is an ideal program for many kinds of students. This year’s freshman class is 49% Pell-eligible, based on financial need.    

“The goal of the Indiana State Advantage, to begin with, was to extend the Honors College model to students who often traditionally do not get those types of advantages,” Olsen said. “If you come here from any background, you get what a fraction of students at other schools get.”

The freshman class has percentage gains among African Americans and all minorities — students who were among the most likely to skip college during the pandemic. ISU’s freshman class is 36% minority and 22% African American.

The number of minorities is up 27% compared to last year. The number of African Americans is up 50% compared to last year.

The number of both freshmen and students overall living on campus has increased.

The freshman class has increases of students from Indianapolis and its surrounding counties, Chicago and its “collar counties,” and St. Louis and its surrounding counties.

The new freshmen are 81% from Indiana. Marion County has the most students, with Vigo County second. Both of those counties showed increases from last year.

Programs that continue to experience strong enrollment include Math and Computer Science, Psychology, Nursing, Aviation, Elementary and Secondary Education, Criminology, and Engineering.

The MBA program had a 58% increase in students compared to last year. ISU’s new completion program in Leadership and Professional Development enrolled its first students this semester.

ISU’s one-year retention rate is up almost four percentage points from the previous year.

Total headcount enrollment is 8,658. That number is about 9,500 when dual credit and other non-degree-seeking students are included (as has been reported in previous years). Despite the pandemic’s impact on previous years’ class sizes, university leaders see a bright future.

“We continue to experience the impact of past smaller classes due to the pandemic,” said Dr. Jason Trainer, Vice Provost for Enrollment Management. “It will take at least three years to graduate those smaller classes.”

Later this week, ISU will make a major partnership announcement that will further advance the university.

“There is still much work to be done,” Curtis said. “We need to build on many positives in these data. The Provost and Academic Affairs have charted a path forward based on priorities in our strategic plan. We must continue to work the plan. We will continue to deliver on our mission.”

Media contacts: 

Mark Alesia, Director of University Communication 

(C) 812-229-8020

Dianne Powell, Associate Director of University Communication

(O) 812-237-8764

(C) 812-878-2131