Enrollment across Mississippi’s eight public universities has declined for the first time in 20 years.
The system reported an enrollment of 80,532 on Monday. That is down 490 students, or .6 percent, from last fall.
“While the decrease system-wide is small, it does demonstrate that the changes in the Pell Grant program are having an impact on the decisions students are making,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Hank Bounds in a news release.
Students’ eligibility time to receive the grants was recently reduced from 18 full-time semesters to 12.
Jackson State University and the University of Mississippi each saw enrollment grow by more than 3.5 percent, and Delta State University was up by a half percent. The other five universities saw decreases, including an 8.1 percent decline at Mississippi Valley State University and a 6.9 percent drop at the University of Southern Mississippi.
The University of Mississippi saw a record enrollment of 22,286 students, including 2,860 at the its Medical Center in Jackson. That includes 18,423 students on the Oxford campus, a rise of 7.4 percent.
The university’s freshman class of 3,579 students is up by 6.1 percent and is the largest freshman class for any university in Mississippi history. That class also set an all-time UM record with an average ACT score of 24.1.
Mississippi State University’s enrollment was 20,161, a drop of 204 students, or 1 percent. However, the school’s freshman class grew by nearly 10 percent to 3,156 students. The group also posted a school-record ACT score of 23.94.
MUW enrollment remained steady at 2,635, a decrease of 15 students. The institution did see rises in transfer students, new undergraduate students and graduate students.