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University System of Georgia enrollment down for second straight year

Enrollment on University System of Georgia (USG) campuses has declined for a second year in a row.

Total enrollment for the fall semester at the system’s 26 colleges and universities stands at 334,459 students, down 1.2% from the 340,638 who were attending classes a year ago.

While enrollment grew by 1.2% at the system’s four research universities – the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia State University, and Augusta University – the number of students declined across the rest of the system.

Enrollment at comprehensive universities fell 3.7%, state universities were down 5.7%, and state colleges dropped 2.4%.

Despite the overall decline, eight institutions had an increase in enrollment, while 17 declined and one remained flat compared to last year.

“The University System of Georgia faces similar challenges to undergraduate enrollment as other public systems, including a booming job market and the lingering effects of the pandemic,” system Chancellor Sonny Perdue said Tuesday.

“Still, I’m a facts guy, and the facts show USG graduates will make over $1 million more in their lifetimes thanks to their college degree. … Frankly, we need to do a better job marketing that valuable return on investment.”

The university system saw steady enrollment increases between 2013 and 2020, with record-high headcounts each fall between 2015 and 2020. An all-time high student population of 341,489 signed up for classes in the fall of 2020, despite the pandemic.

Besides the lure of the job market, national research has shown that financial uncertainty and the ongoing effects of the pandemic have contributed to enrollment decisions.

A mong the university system schools that did report higher enrollment this fall, Georgia Tech led the way with enrollment growth of 3.3%. Augusta University was next at 2.2%, followed by Gordon State College and the University of Georgia, each of which grew 1.2%.

Other institutions reporting enrollment growth included South Georgia State College, Georgia Gwinnett College, Kennesaw State University, and Albany State University. Dalton State College maintained flat enrollment.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

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