UM enrollment on the mend; largest freshman class in years
(Missoula Current) The University of Montana continued to put its enrollment woes behind it, reporting a 3.7% increase in students - the largest annual year of growth in 14 years.
The university on Monday released its annual fall figures, reporting 10,327 students, or 372 more than this time last year.
“With the largest single year of percentage gain in enrollment since 2009, the University of Montana is firmly ingrained in a period of growth,” UM President Seth Bodnar said in a statement. “By combining a record student retention rate with three consecutive years of growing incoming classes, our university’s growth trajectory is on a clear and upward path.”
According to the school, the incoming freshman class included 1,373 students, which marks the largest freshman class in seven years. Of those first-year students, 799 are state residents, which represents a 12.5% increase compared to last year.
Overall, 66.5% of UM students are Montana residents, the school said.
“We have invested significant time and labor to prioritize serving Montana students,” said Mary Kreta, vice president for enrollment. “As a result, UM has enrolled hundreds of additional Montana-resident students over the past two years, and we have no plans to take our foot off the gas pedal.”
This year's figures suggest the university's recruiting and retention efforts are beginning to pay off after several years of declining enrollment a decade ago.
UM's retention rates also jumped 2% this fall, meaning 76% of last year's freshmen students have returned for their sophomore year. The school also marked progress in first-generation college students, which increased 5.6% over last year.
“Our ability to adapt and innovate to accomplish this mission is illustrated by the numerous ways we are meeting the needs of our state,” Bodnar said. “With Montana’s largest graduate school, dual-enrollment population and workforce development programs, we're ensuring every Montanan has a pathway to access the education and training needed to secure a higher-paying job.”
Other data points found in the fall 2023 enrollment census include:
1,833 graduate students, making UM the largest Graduate School in Montana.
261 law school students, a 4.4% increase over 2022.
2,123 students on federal PELL grants, an 8.7% increase over 2022.
9.2% increase in number of students served with disabilities.