CWU enrollment on a decline


Photo of CWU campus. Photo Courtesy of CWU Flickr

Megan Rogers, Senior Reporter

Enrollment numbers at CWU have been down for over a decade, according to Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Finance and Administration, Joel Klucking.

The Board of Trustees (BoT) met on Oct. 20 to discuss what enrollment numbers look like at CWU. According to the presentation, the total enrollment numbers are down. 

“The comparisons to fall of ‘22 to fall of ‘21 look pretty bad at the top of the funnel, applications were down 34%, admits sort of follow that trend,” said Klucking.

According to Klucking, the total enrollment number for fall 2019 was 11,907 students, fall 2020 was 11,289 students, fall 2021 was 10,325 students and fall 2022 was 9,395 students.

The lower enrollment rates have also affected CWU’s budget.

“We reduced our tuition revenue budget a little bit to reflect the lower enrollment and also demonstrated ways that we’re going to try to not spend money, typically through salary savings,” Klucking said.

With the lower enrollment, there are less student fees coming in. Groups that are student-fee funded are having to make adjustments and reduce things like the service and activities fee.

“The service and activities fee, they have a four-year budget cycle so we’re currently in year two of that four-year budget cycle,” Klucking said. “They’ve had to distribute a 10% cut, not just across the boarcd but … more strategically to different areas.”

Klucking said they are also trying to defer hiring within the SURC and only purchase items essential to operation, due to fewer student fees coming in.

According to the presentation, enrollment numbers for first-year students did go up by 6% from fall 2021. The enrollment for first-year students in fall 2021 was 1,460 and the enrollment for fall 2022 was 1,549.

“If you asked me, the week before classes started, what our freshman enrollment would be based on housing contracts, orientation and those students who had classes I would have said 1,675,” Klucking said at the BoT meeting. “We ended up with 1,549 first-year students, still within our range but near the lower end.” 

CWU hopes to increase its enrollment numbers and has plans to do so. Michelle DenBeste, provost at CWU, said they will go to student fairs and enrollment fairs as well as talk to students who may come to the campus for music or athletic camps. 

DenBeste said they also want to start talking to students when they are in middle school or freshmen and sophomores in high school. 

“We want to make sure they know something about us [CWU],” DenBeste said. “When they’re thinking about college, they’ll think about us.”

During the meeting, Klucking also said that there were some positive things with first-year enrollment. 

According to the presentation, the total enrollment numbers for transfer students went up from 876 in fall 2021 to 906 in fall 2022.

The population of first-generation students in the incoming freshman class for fall 2022 increased from 45% to 48%.