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BSU reports 6 percent enrollment increase

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities reported a 6 percent enrollment increase for Bemidji State University on its report of the 30th-day enrollment numbers, released Oct. 5.

The increase reflects a trend of higher enrollment across Minnesota's 32-school system.

"This is the largest enrollment we've had in a decade," said Lisa Erwin, BSU vice president for student development and enrollment.

MnSCU reported BSU's 30th-day head count at 5,171, an increase of 6.1 percent over the 30th day of classes in fall 2008, when the university had 4,876 students. BSU's 6.1 percent increase was the highest among the system's seven four-year universities, while its head count increase of 295 students ranked fourth.

Overall, head count enrollment in the system's seven universities on the 30th day of classes was up 3.3 percent, to 68,076 students.

BSU's enrollment number could fluctuate throughout the year as students enroll for distance-learning options.

Credit generation, which measure credit load, plays a more critical role in the university's budget than headcount. Credit generation shows an increase nearly mirroring that of headcount enrollment. BSU's 30th-day overall credit load was 62,924 credits, a 6.8 percent increase from a year ago.

According to Erwin, the increase in enrollment is due to a number of reasons.

"We have a very strong freshmen class. This is proof for us that our admission and recruitment plan is working well," Erwin said. "We also have a new distance program at Anoka-Ramsey Community College."

Bemidji State's 808-member class of new incoming freshmen account for 4.3 percent more credits than last year, while transfers (13.8 percent) and post-secondary high-school students (25.9 percent) also saw large increases among new students.

In total, BSU's undergraduate population is generating 7.2 percent more credits than in 2008; graduate students represent a 5.6-percent increase.

BSU hopes to increase freshmen retention with designing a more defined orientation program, Erwin said. This fall, BSU implemented a student orientation program for the first time in several years.

Enrollment at the system's 25 two-year colleges was up nearly 9 percent to just under 131,000 students. Overall enrollment in the system was up 6.8 percent to 198,791 students.

"Our residence halls are full," Erwin said. "We remained very committed to our recruitment strategy and are hopeful to sustain this."