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Association says undergrad enrollment at 15 public universities lowest in 20 years

Branislav Ondrasik

The Michigan Association of State Universities says the 15 public universities in Michigan are seeing the lowest number of undergraduates enrolled this fall, in 20 years.

Freshman enrollment is also at its lowest point since 2002.

Dan Hurley is the CEO of M-A-S-U. He said the two main factors influencing freshman enrollment are: fewer high schoolers graduating in Michigan, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It’s a blend of the two,” he said. “These are challenging declines. Hopefully they are a little bit short term in terms of the pandemic's influence, and we’ll see a bounce back next fall."

Hurley said the decline in total enrollment is partly a result of fewer college-aged Michiganders.

"It is a primarily a matter of demographics in the state,” he said. “Michigan has the fourth highest projected decline in the number of high school graduates through ’23.”

Freshman enrollment is also down from last year. Hurley said that could be due to a combination of those changing demographics and the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the decline in total undergraduate enrollment is also an effect of the state’s changing demographics: there are just fewer college aged Michiganders than there were 20 years ago.