October 09, 2023

PASSHE Has 3.4% Increase in New First-Time Student Enrollment

Contact: Kevin Hensil, khensil@passhe.edu

  • Harrisburg, PA – Fall enrollment of new students increased for the second consecutive year at state-owned universities, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) announced today. Enrollment of new first-time students increased 3.4% in Fall 2023 and is up a combined 10% in Fall 2022 and Fall 2023. 

    “More freshmen and transfer students are choosing State System universities, and that is a very encouraging trend for the state-owned universities and our efforts to address worker shortages in Pennsylvania,” said Dr. Cynthia Shapira, chairwoman of the PASSHE Board of Governors. “The State System has frozen tuition and aligned academic programs to in-demand jobs, and two straight years of new-student enrollment growth shows that is what students want. The strategy is working.”
    Seven PASSHE universities increased first-time undergraduate degree or certificate-seeking enrollment in Fall 2023: 
    • East Stroudsburg 21.1%
    • Cheyney 15.2% 
    • Indiana 15%
    • Commonwealth 11.8%
    • Slippery Rock 5.3%
    • West Chester 2.7% 
    • Shippensburg 1.6%
    Total new first-time undergraduate degree or certificate-seeking student enrollment of those seven universities increased 9%. 
    “The needs of students and the state are changing, and State System universities are continuing to evolve to best serve learners, employers and Pennsylvania’s economy,” said PASSHE Chancellor Dan Greenstein. “Our mission is to provide a high-quality education that prepares students for in-demand jobs at the lowest possible price, and I commend the faculty, staff and university leaders for their dedication to students and the future of Pennsylvania.”

    Enrollment trend delivers positive outlook

    In addition to improvements in new-student enrollment, total enrollment also continues to improve following the pandemic, with growth at five universities and nearly level total enrollment at three more universities. The growth in total enrollment was led by East Stroudsburg, with an increase of 6%. Indiana is up 4.8%, Cheyney is up 2.5%, Slippery Rock is up 1.4% and Shippensburg is up 0.4%. Total System enrollment dipped 2.2%, indicating that enrollment is stabilizing after more than a decade of declines. 
    State System universities are the largest provider of four-year higher education for Pennsylvania residents. Eighty-eight percent of the 82,688 State System university students are from Pennsylvania. 
    Other highlights from across the State System:
    • Cheyney, the nation's first Historically Black College and University (HBCU), has its largest total enrollment since 2017. 
    • Commonwealth’s new student enrollment is up 11.8% and the number of graduate students increased.  
    • East Stroudsburg’s total enrollment of underrepresented minority (URM) students increased 1.3% (to 40.8%).
    • IUP had its highest number of new, first-time students since 2018, and overall enrollment increased for the first time in 11 years.
    • Kutztown set record highs for its incoming freshman GPA and new-student diversity.
    • Millersville saw a nearly 5% increase in graduate students. 
    • PennWest exceeded by 1.1% its first-year student enrollment goal used in budget planning.
    • Shippensburg’s dual enrollment program, Ship Start, increased 35%, and the university saw 20% growth in new graduate students.
    • Slippery Rock had its largest first-year class since 2019 and record enrollment of graduate students. 
    • West Chester had its largest ever first-year class and had a 4% increase in out-of-state students.
    “We are pleased the strategy to freeze tuition and align more programs to in-demand careers is benefiting students,” said Chancellor Greenstein. “We know that Pennsylvania needs State System universities to help address worker shortages in healthcare, STEM, business and education, all of which are among our strongest and most enrolled programs. We are focused on preparing more Pennsylvanians to be both comprehensively educated and specifically skilled for good jobs that our state’s economy depends on.”

    Tuition freezes and aligning programs to in-demand jobs is attracting students

    Because of state investment by the General Assembly and Governors Wolf and Shapiro, totaling nearly 23% over the past two years, the PASSHE Board of Governors was able to freeze undergraduate tuition for an unprecedented fifth consecutive year. As a result, in-state undergraduate students – 88% of whom are Pennsylvania residents – have flat tuition for the sixth consecutive year (2018-19 to 2023-24). If tuition had kept pace with inflation since 2018, it would be 21% higher today.
    State System universities are a major contributor to the workforce and are partnering with the state to strengthen the pipeline from the classroom to the workforce. The State System’s academic strengths match industries with worker shortages, including healthcare, STEM, education and business. The number of PASSHE university graduates in those in-demand fields has increased since 2010, despite enrollment declines.

    PASSHE highlights: 

    • 82% of recent PASSHE graduates working in Pennsylvania majored in high-priority programs (healthcare, STEM, business, education and social services).
    • 77% of students are majoring in programs that lead to careers in high demand.
    • Over 35% of students have family incomes of $48,000 or less.
    • State System universities guarantee admission to transfer students with associate degrees from Pennsylvania community colleges.
    • College graduates earn $866,144 more over their careers than those without a degree.
    Last month, PASSHE joined Governor Shapiro and Google to announce a new partnership enabling students to earn a Google Career Certificate during some undergraduate courses, allowing them to earn college credit and an industry-recognized certificate at the same time.