Student Retention, Nonresident and International Enrollment Lead to Sixth Consecutive Year of Record Number of Students at CSU

Colorado State University posted record student enrollment for the sixth consecutive year, bolstered by success in keeping more students in school and on track to graduation, as well as a significant surge in international students and continued success in recruiting students from around the nation to Fort Collins.

In all, CSU’s enrollment now stands at a record 31,514 — a nearly 3 percent increase above last year’s record enrollment tally of 30,647.

A key factor in attaining this record enrollment is that nearly 9 out of 10 new students last year are enrolled again this semester at CSU. By focusing on helping its students succeed academically, and connect to the campus and community, CSU posted a record retention rate, which is the university’s highest historical retention rate and largest one-year increase. Improving retention rates and the corresponding improvement in graduation rates is one of President Tony Frank’s highest priorities for the university community.

“This is the highest rate of retention we have ever had at CSU and the largest one-year gain in memory,” said CSU Provost and Executive Vice President Rick Miranda. “That is a testament to the hard work our faculty and student-support staff have invested in student success: staying in school, keeping on course to timely graduation, and ultimately obtaining their degrees and joining our alumni. This all means that a higher proportion of students are graduating, and they are graduating faster – which saves them tuition dollars and enables them to enter the workforce sooner.”

Along with record student enrollment and retention rates, 20 percent of the freshman class is racially and ethnically diverse, a notable milestone.

“CSU has been working for many years on the recruitment and retention of students who have been historically underrepresented,” said Vice President for Diversity Mary Ontiveros. “This milestone reflects the success of those efforts. Faculty and staff across campus are committed to the success of undergraduate students and that has influenced our recruiting efforts. This commitment is evident in many pre-collegiate programs at the university, such as Upward Bound, the Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session and the Black Issues Forum.”

Further, international enrollment increased to 1,506 students this year, a 23 percent increase over last year. CSU’s international enrollment has increased 70 percent over the past five years. International students now account for more than 5.6 percent of CSU’s student population.

“The 23 percent growth in international student enrollment this past year is obviously a terrific achievement, and I am especially pleased that 5.6 percent of CSU’s student population is international,” said Jim Cooney, vice provost for International Affairs. “Our success links to many factors – strategic partnerships in China and Vietnam, strong growth in undergraduate and graduate applications, excellent branding, and the new INTO Pathways program – so we are well-positioned for continued success in the future, too.”

Resident instruction undergraduate and graduate enrollment are both up over last year (0.7 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively) while enrollment in Professional Veterinary Medicine remained stable. About 77 percent of resident instruction students are Colorado residents while 23 percent are nonresidents.

A total of 4,443 new freshmen have joined the campus. While this is a slight decline of about 100 students from last year, the class is more diverse, including 912 racially and ethnically diverse freshmen and 61 international students, demonstrating the university’s commitments to access and diversity. The quality of the freshman class is demonstrated by an average ACT score of 24.7 and includes a wide array of accomplished students, including 69 class valedictorians, four Boettcher Award winners and 25 Daniels Fund Scholars. In just the past three years, applications from freshman nonresident students have increased by 41 percent. During 2013, freshman nonresident applications surpassed Colorado applications for the first time. Freshman nonresident enrollment has increased by 24 percent over the past three years. Nonresident students make up 26 percent of this year’s freshman class.

This year’s incoming freshman class includes Colorado residents from 52 counties, including 1,856 from high schools in the seven-county Denver metropolitan area. Nonresident students come from 48 additional states and the District of Columbia. Eighty-seven of the freshmen are from abroad, representing 28 countries (including overseas military bases) and two U.S. territories (Puerto Rico and Guam).

Nearly one in four CSU freshmen will be the first in their family to earn a college degree. CSU’s incoming class includes 762 Pell-eligible, low-income Colorado residents (23.2 percent of incoming residents). In light of the Commitment to Colorado program, now in place for three years, an additional 133 freshmen above Pell but at or below the state median income will have at least half their tuition costs covered. Overall, 4,176 CSU undergraduates will benefit from the Commitment to Colorado program.