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Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

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.

Go deeper

1 dead as severe storms pummel the South

A tree that fell on a home carport damaged a vehicle during a storm in Central, Louisiana. No injuries were reported, according to Central Fire Department. Photo: Central Fire Department/Twitter

Strong storms lashed the South early Saturday, spawning at least one tornado and unleashing strong winds and hail. And forecasters more severe weather was expected to hit the parts of the region in the coming hours.

Details: Thousands of customers lost power during the storms in Florida, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana, according to tracking site poweroutage.us. An F3 tornado that hit St Landry Parish, Louisiana, killed one person and wounded seven others.

Scoop: Biden eyes Russia adviser criticized as soft on Kremlin

Photo: Alexander Shcherbak\TASS via Getty Images

President Biden is considering appointing Matthew Rojansky, head of the Wilson Center's Kennan Institute, as Russia director on the National Security Council, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Why it matters: Rojansky has been praised for his scholarship on Russia and is frequently cited in U.S. media for his expert commentary. But his work has drawn criticism — including in a 2018 open letter from Ukrainian alumni of Kennan that blasted the think tank he runs as an "unwitting tool of Russia’s political interference."

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases hold steady at 65,000 per day — CDC declares racism "a serious public health threat" — WHO official: Brazil is dealing with "raging inferno" of a COVID outbreak.
  2. Vaccines: America may be close to hitting a vaccine wall — Pfizer asks FDA to expand COVID vaccine authorization to adolescents — CDC says Johnson & Johnson vaccine supply will drop 80% next week.
  3. Economy: Treasury says over 156 million stimulus payments sent out since March — More government spending expected as IMF projects 6% global GDP growth.
  4. Politics: Supreme Court ends California's coronavirus restrictions on home religious meetings.
  5. World: Iran tightens COVID restrictions amid fourth wave of pandemic.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.