Student enrollment at Mississippi’s eight public universities has declined 1.6 percent, from 82,654 students enrolled in fall 2016 to 81,350 enrolled this fall.

“While preliminary fall enrollment is important, our true measure of success is defined by the number of these students who obtain a degree,” said Dr. Glenn F. Boyce, Commissioner of Higher Education.

Delta State University’s student enrollment increased by 5.3 percent to 3,778, the largest percentage increase of all schools, according to preliminary figures released by the Institutions of Higher Learning. Jackson State University saw the greatest decline with a 12.5 percent decrease from last year. This fall, 8,583 students are enrolled at JSU.

“This significant uptick represents the fourth consecutive increase (at Delta State University), and I couldn’t be more thrilled,”  said DSU President William LaForge.

The enrollment increase can be credited to a number of advancements at the school, LaForge said, including:

  • Doubling community college recruiters and increasing partnerships with high schools.
  • Improved retention rates thanks to programs such as the Student Success Center and First Year Seminar.
  • Signature programs that continue to attract more students, including the Robert E. Smith School of Nursing, Delta Music Institute, Health/Physical Education/Recreation, and Aviation.
  • Doubling the number of international students in the last three years.
William Bynum, President of Jackson State University Credit: JSU Communications

Jackson State officials attribute the decrease in enrollment on their campus to “implementing new student financial account management policies and reducing the number of scholarships and waivers offered,” according to a press release.

“The university is requiring payment earlier in the semester, which allows us to manage our resources more effectively. Also, JSU reduced institutionally funded scholarship offerings in order to stabilize these expenditures,” said President William Bynum.

The newly implemented financial aid policy reduced scholarship assistance and eliminated some waivers for out-of-state fees.

At Mississippi State University, a record number of 2,062 transfer students have enrolled for the fall semester, an increase of 232 over last year’s total of 1,830.

Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum Credit: MSU

MSU president Mark Keenum pointed to new and upgraded facilities and programs, such as the recently opened Old Main Academic Center and the Center for Student Success.  

“We believe there’s a direct correlation between sharing our success stories with broader audiences and steadily climbing enrollment, Keenum said.

The University of Mississippi’s freshman class of 3,697 students includes a greater percentage of Mississippi residents, 45.4 percent – a 2.5 percent increase over last year. It also has a higher percentage of minorities, 21.2 percent, than last year’s entering class.

Brandi Hephner-LaBanc, Ole Miss vice chancellor of student affairs Credit: Robert Jordan, Ole Miss Communications

“We have focused on recruiting more Mississippi students, through our general admissions programs, our MOST mentoring program and hosting important programs such as the American Legion’s Boys State,” said Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor for student affairs. “It is rewarding to see growth in these areas through our concerted efforts.”

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Ashley F.G. Norwood

Ashley F.G. Norwood

Ashley F. G. Norwood, a native of Jackson, earned a bachelor's degree in English from Jackson State University and a master’s degree from the Meek School of Journalism at the University of Mississippi. Norwood, who specializes in multimedia journalism, has been recognized nationally for her documentary film the fly in the buttermilk, which covers the history, perceptions and principles of black Greek-lettered organizations at the University of Mississippi.