Northeastern Illinois University

Northeastern Illinois University welcomes largest freshman class in three years

Friday, September 9, 2016

Northeastern Illinois University announced today that the number of new freshman students that it enrolled for the Fall 2016 semester is the largest it has seen since Fall 2013. 801 new freshmen enrolled for the fall, an increase of 7.1 percent over Fall 2015 (748 students).

“Students come to Northeastern Illinois University because they recognize the value of our strong academic programs and student support services, and they want to be a part of our quality institution,” said President Sharon Hahs, who will leave the University to retire at the end of the month. “Northeastern continues to show its strength not only in how well we respond to students’ needs but also in the diverse makeup of our student body.”

Other bright spots in the University’s fall enrollment data show strong performance over last fall:

  • New graduate students (632) are up by 4.3 percent over 2015 (605), the most since 2012.
  • New transfer students (1,289) are up by 1.3 percent over 2015 (1,272), the most since 2013.
  • New African-American freshman enrollment (170) is up 95.4 percent over 2015 (87), the most since at least 1999.
  • New international students (54) are up by 10.2 percent over 2015 (49).
  • Fall freshman applications are up by 41.0 percent over last year.

Since last fall, the University opened its first residence hall and launched two new graduate programs, the Master of Social Work and the Master of Arts in Community and Teacher Leaders. Northeastern also recently celebrated receiving the prestigious accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) for the University’s College of Business and Management.

Even with strong new-student numbers, total student enrollment fell slightly by 3.6 percent to 9,538 from the 2015 total of 9,891. Universities around the state—particularly public institutions—are feeling the pinch from the state’s ongoing budget impasse. At Northeastern, the enrollment drop also can be attributed to a rising number of graduates. The number of degrees conferred during Fiscal Year 2016 (2,153) was up by 8.6 percent over the previous fiscal year (1,982).

“We have a solid and intentional recruitment and enrollment strategy that is working well in spite of the budgetary and economic forces that are beyond our control,” said Provost Richard Helldobler, who will serve as Interim President, starting Oct. 1. “Northeastern continues to grow and adapt to these challenges, and students have been very responsive to our efforts to enhance academic programs and create an ideal environment for student success.

Like most colleges and universities, Northeastern has fronted Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants to low-income students who qualify. The uncertainty over whether the state will provide MAP funding has negatively impacted student retention rates at Northeastern and elsewhere. Of the Fall 2015 freshmen who have not registered for Fall 2016 classes, 62.9 percent have financial impediments. The state’s budget impasse and untimely allocations of MAP grants have been contributing factors.

Northeastern Illinois University’s Main Campus is located on 67 acres in an attractive residential area on the Northwest Side of Chicago; the University offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate programs in the arts, sciences, education and business. For the past several years, it has topped the U.S. News & World Report lists for diversity and low student debt. Last month, a study by LendEDU found that Northeastern students graduate with the ninth-lowest student loan debt nationally among public four-year colleges and universities. Among all four-year colleges and universities, Northeastern ranks 28th.