DEKALB, Ill. (WREX) — Northern Illinois University saw its new freshman enrollment climb this fall by nearly 12% over the same time last year—the largest year-over-year percentage increase in the freshman class in more than two decades.
According to the official census on the 10th day of attendance, total freshman enrollment for fall 2021 increased to 2,285, up 238 students over last fall. With this year’s jump, NIU surpassed the 2021 freshman enrollment goal in its multi-year Strategic Management Enrollment Plan, while recording the fifth straight year of growth among incoming freshmen.
Additionally, the freshman class arrives at NIU with an average high school GPA of 3.34, the second highest in 10 years. Looking at other characteristics of the incoming class, 57% of the new freshmen are first-generation college students.
“It’s been an incredibly challenging year, but we’re seeing very positive trends in key areas, from our freshman enrollment growth to our 10-year external-funding high for faculty and staff research, education and service projects, which provide meaningful opportunities for student engagement," NIU President Lisa Freeman said.
The school says total enrollment for fall 2021 is 16,234, a decrease of 3% from 2020. The school attributes the overall decrease to disruptions caused by the pandemic.
The percentage reflects overall decreases in both undergraduate enrollment and enrollment in graduate and professional programs.
“Knowing that the past year was difficult for students, we’ve worked extremely hard to return to a more traditional, in-person experience this fall,” Provost Beth Ingram said. “We also have continued to make considerable investments of time and resources to support our students by expanding and enhancing tutoring, academic advising and student financial advising. We're here to help them succeed."