ST. CLOUD - The President of St. Cloud State University says they've turned a corner after years of declining enrollment. Earl Potter says enrollment projections indicate the three-year decline might be over.

He says, "Our new student admissions for the fall are up by about five percent, our returning students are up as well, and transfer students are up. So in all those categories we appear to be passing through that shock of coming out of the recession, and strength in our enrollments is returning."

Last fall SCSU announced a decrease in student enrollment for this school year of 5.9 percent.

St. Cloud State University is also hoping a three-year plan to add new programs, and close others, can help to aid reverse a three-year trend of declining enrollment. Potter says they've already opened a new nursing program.

He says, "For example we started a new program available this semester that allows people with a two year nursing degree to complete their bachelors level nursing degree online. That program was opened in December and started in January at capacity."

Potter says they've reviewed every academic program over the past three months. He says another strategy is to have a better presence in the Twins Cities area, trying to pull those students up to St. Cloud for school.

The fewer number of students also has created a budget deficit. Potter says they've trimmed the budget by $4 million this year, and they'll need to make another $10 million in cuts next year. If SCSU can start growing enrollment again, Potter is hoping to be back to a positive budget by 2017.

Declining enrollment has been common at public universities across the state and country since the end of the great recession. Also, the number of high school graduates has been steadily dropping in Minnesota, which in turn means fewer students available to go to college.