Overall enrollment up for state’s universities

Published 11:29 am Thursday, September 20, 2012

Overall enrollment at Mississippi’s eight publicly funded universities is up for the 2012 fall semester, though it is down at five, including at Alcorn State University.

Figures released by the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, which governs the public universities, show 80,973 students were enrolled in the state’s universities, a 0.6 percent increase from the 80,516 students enrolled at this time last year.

Dr. Hank Bounds, commissioner of higher education, said he was pleased with the increase.

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“This enrollment increase is smaller than the increases we have seen over the past few years, but having more than 80,000 students enrolled is still great news for our students and our state,” Bounds said in a statement.

Alcorn showed the largest percentage drop in enrollment, from 4,018 students in 2011 to 3,910, or 2.7 percent.

Dr. Samuel White, executive vice president and provost at Alcorn, was not surprised by the numbers.

“It was sort of expected,” White said. “We had planned for a flat enrollment after having a huge increase last year. When you look at the financial aid and the change in the Pell grant law, lower enrollment was an expectation.”

Last fall, Alcorn saw a 19.3 percent increase in enrollment, the largest in the history of the 140-year-old university. In 2010, Alcorn’s enrollment grew by 10.4 percent and by 2.9 percent in 2009.

Alcorn’s main campus is in Lorman and branches are in Natchez and Vicksburg.

The University of Mississippi showed the largest increase in overall enrollment, from 20,830 in 2011 to 21,534 in 2012, a 3.4 percent jump from last year’s numbers.

While Alcorn will see a drop in tuition revenue with the decreased enrollment, the school received good news Monday afternoon.

ASU was one of seven Mississippi schools awarded more than $18.6 million through the Historically Black College and Universities Program, U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson announced.

ASU will use the $2,981,217 for professional development, utilities and instructional purposes, White said.

“These funds are used to strengthen the university and its academic program offering,” White said. “Given the downturn in educational funding that we receive from the state, we certainly would not provide all the tutorials that we provide to our students and opportunities for our faculty without these funds.”

The U.S. Department of Education money totaled $18,601,115 for seven schools in Mississippi. Nationwide, the USDE awarded $227.9 million to 97 HBCUs in 19 states.

Other schools in Mississippi awarded funds were: Tougaloo College, $2,195,108; Hinds Community College, $1,592,626; Jackson State, $5,314,830, Mississippi Valley State, $2,539,568; Coahoma Community College, $2,472,769; and Rust College, $1,505,037.