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Outstate undergrad students contribute to UNK's enrollment increase

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UNK enrollment

A total of 6,041 students are enrolled at UNK for the fall 2022 semester.

KEARNEY – Following last year’s increase in fall enrollment, the University of Nebraska at Kearney recorded 234 fewer students – for a total of 6,041 – for fall 2022. The 3.7% decrease tracks national and regional trends.

UNK’s first-time freshmen number dropped to 863, down from last year’s 958. There are 4,269 total undergraduates at UNK, and 1,772 graduate students.

Undergraduate non-resident students continue to increase, by 4.4% this year – to 668. The growth in out-of-state and international students is prompted by the New Nebraskan and International Loper scholarships. Among all students (undergraduate and graduate), 17% are from outside Nebraska. With the New Nebraskan Scholarship, undergraduates from all states pay the Nebraska tuition rate for traditional, face-to-face programs.

Among first-time freshmen, the portion of non-Nebraska residents – 16% (138) – is the highest since 2012, when 17.7% of students were from outside the state. For all U.S. students outside Nebraska, the largest number are from Colorado (167), followed by Kansas (109), Iowa (53) and California (51). Students this fall are from 46 states and 52 countries. The largest international representation is from Japan (112), Mexico (48), Nepal (37) and South Korea (26).

This fall’s sophomore (905) and senior (1,221) classes are both larger than last year’s. Looking at undergraduate transfer students, 325 new transfer students enrolled, down from 347.

Kelly Bartling

Kelly Bartling

“The record number of applications for this fall – nearly 6,000 first-time students – continues to indicate strong demand for UNK,” said Kelly Bartling, vice chancellor for enrollment management.

Among first-time freshmen, program growth was recorded in political science (66%), music and performing arts (65%), art and art history (43%), health sciences (14%) and psychology (10%).

The largest program for first-time freshmen at UNK is health sciences, with 175 majors, followed by management (97) and early childhood education (84).

“UNK’s enrollment data each fall is a snapshot of workforce and economic trends in our region. The continuing growth in health sciences reflects our commitment to improving rural health care. That’s a success story that is being more widely recognized,” Bartling said.

Enrollment across the University of Nebraska System for fall 2022 is 49,560, a 2.2% decline from 2021. The decrease aligns with projections built in to the university’s 2022-23 operating budget, approved by the Board of Regents in June.

“The University of Nebraska has not been immune to challenges facing colleges and universities across the country,” NU System President Ted Carter said, noting that postsecondary enrollment nationally has declined in recent years.

“But the fact is, Nebraska needs and expects its public university to grow. The University of Nebraska System is the largest producer of workforce, research and service in the state. We can’t afford to be stagnant on enrollment,” Carter said.

Ted Carter

Ted Carter

Enrollments within several key workforce areas grew this year, including agriculture, public health, allied health and engineering, and NU’s student body is the most diverse in university history, with 22% of students identifying as minority.

Carter highlighted a number of recent systemwide steps designed to expand access and opportunity for students and families, including the creation of the Nebraska Promise, which allows qualifying Nebraska students with family incomes of $65,000 or less to attend the university tuition-free; two straight years of tuition freezes; and application fee waivers during the fall.

The university also is focused on expanding transfer opportunities so students can seamlessly transfer between postsecondary institutions, as well as expanding educational opportunities for working adults, particularly the 300,000-plus Nebraskans who have some college credits but no degree.

“A University of Nebraska education transforms a student’s life,” Carter said. “The value that higher education brings to individuals, communities and our economy is as great as it has ever been. Our task now is to make sure we bring that opportunity to each and every student.”

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