UW records smaller enrollment decrease than expected amid COVID-19 pandemic


Wyo4News Staff, [email protected]

LARAMIE, WYOMING (September 21, 2020) — The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a significant decrease in enrollment of out-of-state freshmen at the University of Wyoming (UW) this fall, but an increase in graduate/professional students and relatively strong numbers of in-state students have kept UW’s overall enrollment decline to a small percentage.

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According to census data collected on the 18th day of classes, 11,829 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled at UW, compared to 12,249 last fall. That’s a decrease of 420 students, or 3.4 percent. It is a much smaller drop than had been anticipated earlier in the summer as the pandemic impacted students and their families.

In addition to intensive efforts to retain and recruit students amid the pandemic, UW’s enrollment received a boost from two financial aid programs created by a commitment of federal CARES Act funding by Gov. Mark Gordon for the fall semester. The first program provides grants of up to $3,250 to all full-time students for expenses such as housing and food. The second program makes available $2,500 for nontraditional students between the ages of 25-64 to pay for tuition and fees.

The decline in first-time students from outside Wyoming is the biggest factor in the overall drop, as the 609 nonresident freshmen this fall are down 32.5 percent from last year’s 902. Even amid the pandemic and a continuing decline in the number of Wyoming high school graduates, enrollment of resident students remains strong, with 815 first-time freshmen and 712 transfer students from the state enrolling this fall — compared to 858 in-state freshmen and 749 transfers last fall.

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The 15th class day normally is used as the official census date because it falls after the class drop/add deadline, and after the first tuition and fee payment is due. September 18 was designated as the census date for this fall because UW extended the deadline to withdraw from classes with a full refund through September 15 — a day after a two-week pause to the phased fall return plan was lifted.

The most encouraging data this fall is the increase in graduate and professional students, with 2,487 enrolled — up from 2,442 last fall. The international economic downturn likely played a role by driving more people to consider graduate education instead of entering the depleted job market, but UW has intensified its graduate recruitment initiative as well.

Overall enrollment of sophomores also is up over last year, rising from 1,793 to 1,856.

While the number of first-time students from out of state showed the biggest drop, nonresident transfer students held relatively steady, going from 233 last year to 223 this fall. That helped sustain the overall transfer number, with 935 transfers this fall compared to 982 last year.

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After enrolling the two largest freshman classes in UW’s history the previous two years, UW is working hard to make this fall’s pandemic-driven decline in first-time students a temporary challenge.

For additional information or questions about UW enrollment, call Kyle Moore at (307) 766-4286, or email [email protected].

Students interested in scheduling campus visits should call UW Admissions at 800-DIAL-WYO, or go online at www.uwyo.edu/visit.

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