ST. CLOUD -- Overall enrollment at St. Cloud State University is down for this academic year. This year's total headcount is 15,092 students which is down about 2.4 percent from last year. The university's full-year equivalent is down by 1.5 percent.

Interim Provost Dan Gregory says the full-year equivalent number is what the school uses to standardize its numbers.

"If we have two half-time students that's counted as one FYE, one full year equivalent. The reason that's important is it's indicating even though our number of actual students on campus is down the number of credits that each of those students that are here [taking] is going up."

Gregory says St. Cloud State and many other universities throughout the state are seeing lower graduation numbers and the decline has been trending for nearly a decade.

"The graduating class in Minnesota has been declining in overall numbers for about the last 7-8 years. Projections are that we are at the bottom of that decline and that over the next 10 years the number of graduating seniors is expected to rise."

Reasons for lower enrollment almost always goes back to financial means and if students can cover the cost of college. Gregory says the unmet need cost is what drives some students away from college.

"We analyze what we call the unmet need for students. What that is, is the total cost of coming to our institution and what we do is subtract the amount of aid they [the student] is given, grants, any scholarships and the expected family contribution and then the difference between those two numbers is the gap."

Gregory says gaps can range from zero to above $4,000 but it doesn't mean that student necessarily needs to pay $4,000. He says the amount students have to pay can vary and they've seen the gap go up with last year's graduating class.

With more students working while in college the gap is going to be there until the student pays off the balance. Gregory says as the economy continues to improve the university will see less students with gaps.

Although, not all enrollment numbers are down at SCSU, Gregory says many other student group enrollment is up this year.

"The graduate student numbers is up, are students of color numbers is up, as is the number of international students."

Graduate student enrollment is up by 1.4 percent with over 1,800 students in graduate programs at St. Cloud State. International student enrollment is up by 18 percent with nearly 1,400 international students enrolled at SCSU. Students of color also represent more than 2,500 students and make up 16.9 percent of the student body.