BOZEMAN – Montana State University announced its spring headcount this week: 15,496 students, a record, and one that marks 10 straight years of spring enrollment growth.
This spring’s number is up almost 300 students compared to the same time last year, according to Tony Campeau, the university’s registrar.
University leaders credited the growth chiefly to MSU’s slate of programs and initiatives aimed at keeping students in school and on track for graduation.
MSU offers students a number of programs designed to help them find a way to stay in school.
MSU’s orientation sessions, MSU Debut, and the university’s annual convocation aim to immediately get students involved in the campus community.
“Social connections are one important component to what we call the first-year experience,” Chris Kearns, MSU’s vice president for student success, said. “And we know students’ experiences that first year can have a big impact on their overall success in college.”
MSU’s four-year graduation rate is 26.9 percent, a figure that has increased seven percent over the past five years. Kearns said keeping students in school will only push that percentage higher.
Another highly visible program aimed at increasing the number of successful graduates is the Freshman 15 campaign, which encourages students to graduate more quickly and save on tuition by taking at least 15 credits per semester.
Students do not pay additional tuition beyond 12 credits, so a student taking 15 credits — or 18 or 21 — pays the same as a student taking only 12. Taking more credits per semester and graduating quicker can save students thousands of dollars over the course of their education.
Over the past five years, the number of students taking part in the Freshman 15 initiative has gone up by almost 1,000.
Now, approximately 71 percent of freshmen are on track with the program compared to about 50 percent before the program began in 2011.
“The Freshman 15 effort is not only an important incentive to keep students on track for timely graduation, it is also a powerful tool students and families can use to help control the cost of higher education,” Kearns said.
Of the 15,496 students this spring, 13,610 are undergraduates and 1,886 are graduate students. A total of 9,650, or 62.3 percent, of MSU’s students were Montana residents.
MSU also set an enrollment record this past fall with 16,703 students. Historically, spring enrollments are always less than the fall count.