Spring undergraduate enrollment declines again at CMU, despite more freshmen

Source: Central Michigan University enrollment reports.
Source: Central Michigan University enrollment reports. The maroon line is overall on-campus enrollment, while the gold line indicates undergraduate enrollment.

By John Irwin

Undergraduate enrollment at Central Michigan University declined for the fourth consecutive spring semester, a new enrollment report shows.

This semester, 16,232 undergraduate students are enrolled at CMU, a decline of 75 students (or 0.5 percent) from last spring. In total, undergraduate enrollment is down 8.7 percent from its 2011 peak, when 19,658 undergrads attended the university.

That decline was driven by a sharp decline in freshman enrollment. Between spring 2011 and spring 2014, freshman enrollment declined by 27 percent, from 4,012 students to 2,912.

The freshman enrollment numbers don’t look that bad this year. In fact, freshman enrollment rose by 27 percent from last semester, from 2,912 freshmen to 3,564. The spring freshman figure is still down 11 percent from 2011, however.

Source: Central Michigan University enrollment reports.
Source: Central Michigan University enrollment reports.

Still, the freshman numbers provide a glimmer of hope for CMU as it looks to turn around its gloomy enrollment figures. CMU’s sharp decline in enrollment — and especially undergraduate enrollment — in recent years has contributed greatly to the university’s recent financial woes, in addition to state funding cuts.

After adjusting for inflation, tuition and room and board revenue has declined by about $10 million since 2011-12, according to university budget documents. The university was projected to bring in about $305 million in revenue from tuition and fees in 2014-15. It brought in a projected $315 million in 2014 dollars in 2011-12. That’s despite tuition increasing by about $27 per credit after adjusting for inflation in that same time span.

As a result, CMU’s operating budgets showed deficits totaling about $27 million over the last two years.

Overall enrollment slightly up

Overall spring enrollment ticked up by 0.9 percent from last year thanks to increased graduate student enrollment. Overall on-campus enrollment stands at 18,339, up by more than 150 students from last year but down more than 1,300 students from spring 2011’s peak.

The spring enrollment figures mirror the fall semester’s numbers.

Source: Central Michigan University enrollment documents.
Source: Central Michigan University enrollment documents.

Fall undergraduate enrollment is down about 8.3 percent (or about 1,600 students) from fall 2010’s peak of 19,368.

Like spring’s numbers, undergraduate enrollment declined slightly in the fall (by less than 0.1 percent), despite an increase in freshman numbers north of 21 percent. Again, like spring, the freshman uptick comes after three years of steep declines in enrollment. Between fall 2010 and fall 2013, freshman enrollment fell by more than 27 percent.

Irwin is the founder and editor of CMU Insider.

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