Montana Public Radio

Montana Colleges See Enrollment Decline Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Feb 10, 2021

Montana’s flagship universities released their spring 2021 enrollment numbers this week, with both  reporting fewer students than a year ago. MTPR's Aaron Bolton reports on how those schools are faring through the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to enrollment data from the University of Montana, the number of total students at its campuses is down 7.3% from a year ago. Fewer students enrolled this school year amid the pandemic and UM has lost 3% of its students that were enrolled last fall.

In a press release Tuesday, UM said it was happy with its fall-to-spring student retention as the pandemic continues to reshape every aspect of college life. UM’s overall student enrollment continues to slide with a nearly 11% drop over the past two years.

Montana State University also started last fall with a smaller incoming class. MSU total student enrollment has dropped 3% compared to this time last year, and 7.4% since the fall.

Colleges across the country have struggled as enrollment of newly graduated high school seniors this fall fell about 22% compared to 2019. UM was not far behindwith a roughly 16% drop in freshman fall enrollment. MSU's freshman enrollment this fall remained nearly identical to its 2019 numbers.