Northeastern Illinois University increased its graduate student enrollment by more than 10 percent and recorded the best fall-to-fall retention of first-time, full-time freshmen in a decade, according to the official Fall 2020 enrollment numbers.
In raw numbers, graduate enrollment jumped from 1,723 students in Fall 2019 to 1,899 in Fall 2020. Total enrollment fell by 4.1 percent to 7,119.
“As with seemingly everything this year, we must view the Fall 2020 enrollment numbers through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic,” President Gloria J. Gibson said. “Despite these challenges, students continue to seek out Northeastern Illinois University to pursue their academic goals.”
Meanwhile, 66.7 percent of the first-time, full-time freshmen from Fall 2019 have enrolled for Fall 2020 classes, the best rate of retention in 10 years.
“Retaining freshmen speaks not only to student success—my top priority as president—but also to the dedication of our faculty and support staff who have helped our students pursue their academic goals even through the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gibson said.
Northeastern addressed its enrollment challenges through a number of initiatives that were launched after the arrival of COVID-19. The University removed the standardized test score requirement from the Fall 2020 undergraduate enrollment application. Additionally, Northeastern strategically deployed its Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to support more than 35 students in the new NEIU Social Justice Leadership Housing Award, which provides free housing for students who positively impact their university, career and communities. Using federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) money, Northeastern also re-enrolled 44 students through a program that waived up to $3,000 in outstanding tuition and fee debt for eligible students who left Northeastern and had not graduated from another institution. Ten additional re-enrolled students deferred to the next semester. Northeastern will work to bring back more students through this program in Spring 2021.