Fall Headcount Shows Increases; Points to Growth

September 21, 2012

University Relations & Marketing

JOPLIN, MO (SNS) - Missouri Southern State University reported strong fall enrollment numbers in many categories including first-year freshmen and out-of-state students to the Board of Governors on Friday, Sept. 21.

The official headcount occurs each fall on the State of Missouri census date, which was Sept. 14. Missouri Southern will formally report its numbers to the Missouri Department of Higher Education next week.

Although MSSU’s overall headcount is down approximately 3 percent, enrollment is up in many categories. After instituting the new Lion Pride Tuition program, which gives the in-state tuition rate to out-of-state students living in more than 120 surrounding counties, MSSU has experienced an 8.9 percent increase in students coming from out-of-state.

“This increase has been an encouraging sign to us that expanding our in-state rate was a good thing for students,” said Darren Fullerton, vice president of student affairs at MSSU. “It has made getting an education more accessible.”

This fall, the university’s overall headcount is 5,417 students taking a total of 64,959 credit hours. That compares to an overall headcount of 5,591 students taking a total of 65,314 credit hours in 2011.

The university is up in enrollment in many key areas over last year: graduate students are up 8 percent, distance learners (those taking courses online) are up 4.7 percent, and first-time freshmen are up 3.5 percent. International students, transfer students, and students taking classes full-time have also increased this year.

What may be contributing to the slightly lower overall headcount is a record number of recent graduates, said Dr. Delores Honey, assistant vice president for assessment and institutional research. During the 2011-2012 academic year, MSSU awarded 1,095 students degrees – more than any other graduating class in the past decade.

In addition, although many Joplin area residents have recovered from the May 2011 tornado, MSSU administrators say many of their students are still dealing with the financial and emotional effects of this event. Many students are still attempting to stabilize themselves financially before returning to finish their four-year degrees.

The university is continuing to help those students affected by the tornado who want to return to college through a tornado recovery scholarship program. Already nearly 100 students have applied for these scholarships.

“We are continuing to see a significant need amongst these students,” said MSSU President Bruce Speck. “We’re responding by offering them assistance any way we can and by continuing to show them how a four-year degree will prepare them for a better career and a better life.”