NIU’s student body shrinks, record amount first-year enrollment


Northern Star File Photo

NIU’s Fall 2022 semester shows a downward trend in overall student enrollment.

By Colin Kempsell

DeKALB — With NIU’s fall semester in full swing, an overall decrease in enrolled students for the year left the first-year student body to set a new record for enrollment. The student body decreased by 3.6% from Fall 2021, while first-year enrollment increased by 7%, according to a news release from the university.

Part-time students dropped from 4,345 in 2021 to 3,741 this fall, while full-time students increased from 11,889 to 11,908.

NIU expected a decrease in overall enrolled students due to “impacts of the prolonged pandemic.” Transfer, undergraduate and graduate student bodies all saw decreases to their totals. The university gave themselves a goal for enrollment — 15,000 to 16,000 students for Fall 2022 — and anticipated transfer students to be the largest hurdle.

New transfers saw a 16.1% decrease from 1,492 in fall 2021 to 1,252 students for fall 2022.

“There was a lot of uncertainty in admissions,” said Beth Ingram, NIU executive vice president and provost. “We knew that there were some storm clouds on the horizon with respect to transfer students because of enrollment at our community college partners.”

According to a news release, NIU saw its largest first-year class since 2014 this year, with almost 20% of first-year students holding a 4.0 grade point average out of high school, and 40% with a grade point average of 3.7 or higher.

2022’s first-year class is reportedly the most diverse in university history, according to the news release. NIU has attempted to break down barriers that prevented students from being able to enroll, like application fees, giving credence to the historic rise in diversity.

“In terms of access, we have removed some of the barriers that have traditionally existed in students from under-represented backgrounds,” said Mayra Lagunas, assistant vice president of enrollment services and director of admissions. “Our approach is holistic review, which takes into consideration different aspects of an applicant beyond just GPA and test scores. We’re looking at the content of a student’s academic profile.”

NIU has developed a “Strategic Enrollment Plan” in an attempt to revitalize diversity, fiscal sustainability and access to resources for students, aiming to take effect from this year until 2025. 

“Guided by our multi-year planning efforts, we have removed barriers to a high-quality college education and are attracting robust numbers of talented freshmen who reflect the diversity of our region,” President Lisa Freeman said. “Despite the challenges of the past two years, we continue to see very positive enrollment trends in other key areas, including enrollment increases among international students and in our University Honors Program.”