SIU enrollment numbers show slight decrease in enrollment, increase in retention

By Staff Report, News Desk

Updated with more numbers 9/1/2020 at 4:13 p.m.

SIU’s enrollment numbers were released on Tuesday and showed a slight decline in enrollment and an increase in freshman to sophomore retention rates.

Total enrollment for fall 2020 is 11,366 students, approximately a 2.8% decline from fall 2019, when enrollment was at 11,695 students.


Enrollment in 2019 was down 8.75% from 2018, and saw decreases of 11.93% and 8.96% in 2017 and 2016.

According to a university press release, freshman to sophomore retention was at 80.6%, up from 5.5% from last year’s 75% retention rate.

On-campus enrollment is at 9,221, 3.9% decline from last year,  and off campus enrollment is at 2,145, 2.2%  increase from 2019 according to numbers provided to the DE from the university.

Chancellor Austin Lane said the new enrollment numbers give the university a lot to celebrate and SIU is turning the tide.

“This is significant change in the right direction,” Lane said. “As we attract and retain larger classes, we should see positive percentages in enrollment growth very soon.”

There was a 31% increase in the number of first time college students at SIU and a 10.5% decline in the number of transfer students.

According to a release about the numbers, the high schools sending the most students this year are Carbondale Community High School, Murphysboro High School, DuQuoin High School, Homewood-Flossmoor Community High School, Belleville Township High School East, Carterville High School and Belleville Township High School West.


“Students have choices, and many apply to multiple universities,” John Frost, the university’s director of admissions, said. “We want students in Southern Illinois to know that we welcome them at SIU and they have an opportunity to get a high-quality education at a national research university close to home.”

The top majors for first-time college students are: aviation flight, zoology, psychology, criminology and criminal justice, biological sciences, business, automotive technology, radiologic sciences, animal science, physiology, according to the release.

The release said the university is actively working on recruiting students for fall 2021 and these recruitment efforts will be supported by a new, strategic enrollment committee drawing expertise from across campus.

The release said the admissions team has adapted to the challenges of recruiting in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and virtual chats with counselors are available in both English and Spanish.

“It will be important for the entire campus and surrounding community and region to assist us in increasing enrollment,” Lane said. “We are a first choice university and major player in the economic development efforts of this region.”

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