Student enrollment numbers at universities around the country have been impacted due to uncertainties brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Colorado State University system, which is made up of three campuses — CSU Fort Collins, CSU Pueblo and the fully online CSU Global — saw an overall decrease in student enrollment for the Fall 2020 semester, but was spared from a larger decrease that was originally anticipated.

According to a press release from Colorado State University, CSU's flagship campus in Fort Collins reported a 3.6% decline in overall enrollment with a total of 27,835 students; CSU Pueblo reported a 3.3% decline with a total of 3,716 students. The campuses shared their enrollment figures at the October meeting of the CSU System Board of Governor last Friday (Oct. 9).

The latest enrollment numbers for CSU Global are currently unavailable, as the fully online campus operates on a different schedule than CSU's other two campuses. However, the university is anticipating an overall increase in non-degree-seeking students and new undergraduates.

Although overall enrollment numbers wound up being higher than the double-digit declines that were initially anticipated for CSU's campuses, the numbers still fall short compared to overall enrollment totals from previous years.

CSU Fort Collins welcomed 23,590 undergraduates this fall, a 4.1% decline from last year, primarily due a decrease in new freshmen enrollment. CSU Pueblo welcomed 3,378 undergraduates this fall, a 5% decline from last year, but also saw a 13% increase in graduate students (338 graduate students enrolled at CSU Pueblo this fall).

Over the summer, campus officials at both CSU Fort Collins and CSU Pueblo were preparing for enrollment drops of 5% to 10% or more while trying to determine the best options for class instruction during the fall semester.

In regards to CSU's effort to retain overall student enrollment as much as possible during a global pandemic, CSU System Chancellor Tony Frank said, “We’re proud of how hard our universities have worked to support students and employees in returning to campus this fall, despite the enormous challenges of reopening during a pandemic... These numbers reflect that extraordinary effort as well as what we’ve heard anecdotally: A majority of our students want to be back and are continuing their progress toward a degree. We want to support that as much as we possibly can.”

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