ST. JOSEPH/COLLEGEVILLE -- The College of St. Benedict and St. John's University are off to great start this school year, with high enrollment numbers.

St. Ben's and St. John's combined have a one percent increase in their total enrollment of students. This year the institutions had a combined enrollment of 3,675 students representing 40 states and 21 counties.

New student enrollment was also up from last year. This year St. Ben's enrolled 503 new students and St. John's enrolled 461, this is four percent higher than last year's total.

The average ACT scores for entering St. Ben's students rose by one-half point from last year. St. Ben's and St. John's students on average get an ACT score in the top 20 percent of all scores nationally.

Both campuses are more racially and economically diverse this year with American students of color making up 19 percent of the new class and international students representing three percent of the new class.

Not only is enrollment numbers up but students are deciding to stay at St. Ben's and St. John's. From first year to second year student retention was nearly 87 percent. Since the late 1990s St. Ben's and St. John's have averaged a 15-20 percent higher retention rate than the national averages of other local and national public and private colleges.