The Gophers' student recruitment took another hit amid the pandemic, with fall 2021 applications to the University of Minnesota's flagship campus dropping 5%.
Driving the trend: Data suggests students are looking to stay closer to home, Robert McMaster, the U's vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, told Torey.
- Out-of-state applications for the Twin Cities campus decreased 21%, per McMaster. Interest from prospective international students saw an even steeper 27% drop.
- But applications from Minnesotans were up 14%, and those from neighboring states with tuition reciprocity agreements increased 10%.
Why it matters: Securing a full (and geographically diverse) class of incoming students is crucial for the U's post-pandemic economic recovery.
Between the lines: Tuition for out-of-state students is more than two times what it is for residents of Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas.
- International students, who often pay full price, contribute tens of millions to the U's finances.
- McMaster said beyond money, geographic diversity benefits students: "They gain from being in a classroom with students from around the country and around the world."
The silver lining: Despite the drop in applications, confirmations by accepted students are up 5% so far. Responses picked up after university President Joan Gabel announced plans to fully resume on-campus offerings this fall.
- The high ratio of yeses is mostly driven by in-state students. And despite the drop in applications, McMaster is hopeful that the size of the incoming class will be roughly same as recent years.
- "As the pandemic fades away, we hope ... to return to stronger national and international enrollment," he said of ongoing efforts to increase the out-of-state student population.
Of note: State and national declines in the number of completed financial aid applications have fueled concerns about the pandemic widening the socioeconomic opportunity gap in higher education.
- But McMaster said the U has not seen a drop in need-based requests for aid so far.
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