Enrollment climbs 2% at Utah’s colleges, universities

Oct 25, 2021, 7:42 PM | Updated: Oct 28, 2021, 12:24 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — This fall’s enrollment at Utah’s public colleges and universities increased by more than 4,600 students compared to last fall, according to the Utah System of Higher Education.

The system’s fall headcount showed overall enrollment rose 2.24% over last year to 211,954 students. In the fall of 2020, the number of students was 207,305.

“We’ve come out of a challenging year, and I am pleased that enrollments have increased overall,” commissioner of higher education Dave Woolstenhulme said in a press release. “It is imperative that we continue to work with students statewide to access and complete higher education to provide a qualified workforce, and beyond that, to achieve continued individual and statewide success.”

Among the state’s universities, Southern Utah University leads the pack with enrollment growth of 8.18%.


“Even with obstacles such as COVID and flooding and housing displacement of students and a housing shortage, we were still able to grow, and that’s a testament to our campus, to those who work so hard and the students who wanted to be here,” SUU interim president Mindy Benson said in an interview with KSL.

SUU said a bulk of the growth can be attributed to a 42% increase in the school’s online degree program, which now accounts for 6% of the student population.

SUU’s population also set a new record with 13,611 students enrolled.

“SUU has long been a hidden gem and I think we’ve definitely been discovered,” Benson said.

To combat the housing shortage at SUU, Benson said the school is working with local developers and that construction is underway for housing for about 500 students.

The University of Utah had the second-highest enrollment growth rate with an increase of 4.18%.

“This is an incredible and exciting milestone for the University of Utah,” University of Utah president Taylor Randall said in a statement.


The U.’s enrollment increased to a total of 34,424 students, the largest student body in the school’s history.

“In our 171-year history, this is the largest we’ve ever been,” said Steve Robinson, the U.’s senior associate vice president for enrollment management. “It’s the first time that our freshman class has exceeded 5,000 students.”

Robinson said the across-the-board growth is due to a variety of factors, including extensive outreach to new students during the pandemic.

“When you’re recruiting students, you’re used to a lot of face-to-face, and that obviously just wasn’t possible over this last 18 months,” Robinson explained in an interview with KSL. “The methods we used actually allowed us to reach out and touch a lot more students than we ever had before.”

The University of Utah reported that enrollment of first-time freshmen increased nearly 20% to 5,361 students.

“The U. also enrolled historically high numbers of domestic students of color, international students and both in-state and out-of-state students,” the University of Utah said in a press release.

To view the student populations at each public college and university, follow this link.

Enrollment deadlines

Nov. 1 is the first priority deadline in the state of Utah for many schools, and the FAFSA window for the 2021-22 academic is open.

BYU, the U., Weber State and Westminster College all encourage seniors to apply early for a better chance at admission.

And looking at tuition costs, Dixie State University is the least expensive Utah school at $5,862 per year.

That’s more than $3,000 less than the U. or Utah State — if dollars and cents are one of a student’s main deciding factors.

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Enrollment climbs 2% at Utah’s colleges, universities