NIU enrollment hits 50-year low
But increase in freshmen leaves Huskies poised for comeback, says prez
By Ted Cox
Northern Illinois University slowed its decline in enrolled students this fall, but nonetheless registered its smallest student body in 50 years.
NIU reported Thursday that its fall enrollment slipped to 16,609, down 3.3 percent from 17,169 last year. That was smaller than the loss of 900 students registered last fall, but the Daily Chronicle reported that was still the lowest figure since the 1960s.
The university was prepared for the decline, which was predicted in a five-year Strategic Enrollment Management Plan released earlier this year. It graduated a large senior class in the spring. Both the number of freshmen and graduate students grew 2 percent from last fall. The Northern Star student newspaper reported that, while the number of off-campus graduate students declined, the number of grad students on campus rose to more than 3,000.
The five-year plan predicted enrollment would turn the corner and rise again next year, and President Lisa Freeman said the Huskies were poised to meet that goal and keep pace with projections to get back to 18,000 by 2023. Freeman told the Chicago Tribune that the 10th-day enrollment figure this fall “affirms that our analysis and strategies are succeeding in attracting excellent students from diverse backgrounds.”