ST. CLOUD -- St. Cloud State University's fall enrollment is once again lower than the previous year. To help improve the situation SCSU has brought in an expert to help come up with a new game plan.

Jacqueline McMillan is the Vice President for Strategic Enrollment Management. She started at SCSU last spring. She says she was brought in to solely focus on how to improve enrollment.

"We're starting to build upon things like being a little more evidence-based and looking at the data a little more closely, looking at market research including demand for programs. The university really brought me in to develop a new division of strategic enrollment management."

With the exception of a slight .03% increase in total headcount in 2015, St. Cloud State has seen lower enrollment numbers for at least the past seven years.

This year, total headcount is at 13,467 students. In 2017, it was at 14,615 and 2016 total headcount came in at 15,092. Total enrollment dropped 7.9% from last year to this year and from 2016 to 2018 the university has seen a 10.7% decrease in total enrollment.

Now that St. Cloud State has someone who is specifically focused on enrollment McMillan says they have been able to start making a new enrollment plan.

"The institution is now being more strategic on working and growing and managing the enrollment. That's a good thing because absent a really structured focus on a strategic effort institutions often times have trouble managing enrollment."

McMillan says lower enrollment numbers can be caused by many factors that have little do with St. Cloud State in general.

"Particularly in these times when demographics are changing, high school graduation rates are falling, competition from other institutions including proprietary schools, those for-profit institutions, there's just a significant amount of challenge and competition. And so the fact that the institution is looking in this way has reorganized, we did that over the summer, is a good thing. So that's part of the good news."

Although total headcount has declined, SCSU has seen an increase in students of color. Last year, nearly 18% of students at SCSU described themselves as students of color. This year, 19.4% of students are listed as students of color.

Also, 81.4% of total students at SCSU are Minnesota residents. During President Robbyn Wacker's convocation speech she highlighted the goal of continuing to make SCSU the first option of Minnesotans.

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