BILLINGS — Montana State University Billings is reporting a 10% increase in their first-time freshmen enrollment over the fall semester in 2020.
Colleges are not immune to the effects of Covid, which led to the initial decrease in enrollment.
“Overall enrollment was down 9% in 2020 from 2019,” said Montana State University Billings Chancellor Stefani Hicswa.
Montana State University Billings fared better than most. Nationally college enrollment shrunk 25% in 2020. UM in Missoula saw freshman enrollment fall 22% compared to 2019, while Montana State University in Bozeman stayed mostly steady.
With freshman enrollment on the rise, Montana State University Billings has seen a partial rebound.
“As we look at this year’s numbers and the success in various areas of program enrollment and new freshman and transfers, overall, we’re up 2.8% from 2020. We’re showing the upward trajectory in enrollment which is really exciting,” said Hicswa.
Although first time freshman enrollment is up from 2020, overall enrollment is down roughly 300 students from 2019. Some think it has to do with the pandemic.
“I think as a new freshman coming in, I would have been pretty apprehensive. College is a big step moving forward, I think I may have held back myself just because you don’t get that one-on-one connection with a professor by being in a classroom. It wasn’t the same,” said Bradley Lowes, a senior at Montana State University Billings.
The main campus of Montana state University in Bozeman is reporting the largest freshman class in their history, but freshman enrollment isn’t the only number on the rise.
“We’re also seeing an increase in our transfer students. I'm seeing students coming from the community colleges in our region to transfer here to finish their bachelor’s degrees. I’m also really excited about the graduate student numbers that we’re seeing in our Native American students, that number is up about 23% from last semester,” said Hicswa.
Montana State University Billings hopes enrollment continues to increase.