Enrollment is down at public Iowa universities – and it’s on purpose

Iowa State Campus. Photo courtesy IowaState.edu

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Enrollment is down at three of Iowa’s public universities, but officials said the decline is intentional at two of the schools.

The University of Iowa, Iowa State University and University of Northern Iowa saw overall enrollment drop of more than 2 percent this fall to a combined total enrollment of about 79,600 students, The Des Moines Register reported.

The University of Iowa and Iowa State University are attempting to make enrollment levels more manageable as officials focus on retaining students and increasing graduation rates, according to the Iowa Board of Regents.

University of Iowa officials want to focus on recruiting top students who fit the school’s programs, said Brent Gage, the university’s associate vice president of enrollment management. The university’s current enrollment is about 32,900 students, about 600 fewer students than last year.

“Our intent is not to grow at a rapid rate,” he said.

Iowa State University currently has about 35,400 students, down 550 students from last year. ISU is creating a five-year plan that may limit enrollment between 35,000 and 37,000 students, said Laura Doering, the university’s associate vice president of enrollment management and student success.

“That range is the sweet spot of where we can best serve students,” she said. “We want to be sure they cross the finish line.”

Despite the enrollment declines, ISU and UI are seeing increased revenue from tuition and fees after increasing costs for certain programs.

University of Northern Iowa has about 11,200 students enrolled this fall, almost 700 fewer than last school year. The university aims to have 13,500 students enrolled by fall 2023.

The university hopes to spur that growth through increased recruitment efforts to attract high school graduates both in and out of the state and transfer students from community colleges, officials said.