A look at Fall 2021 enrollment

September 22, 2021

Highlights include: A larger percentage of first-year students (up 8% from 2020), which includes more students of color on campus (up 5% from 2020). And new graduate student numbers are up 21%.

Campus’ transformed need-based financial aid strategy, improved communication activities with prospective students and new application sources led to the highest first-year undergraduate application volume in UM-Dearborn history 

Additional 2021 enrollment highlights include: There’s a higher percentage of first-year students (up 8% from 2020), which includes more students of color on campus (up 5% from 2020), and new graduate students are up 21% to regain the International student loss campus saw in 2020. 

“We had a record number of first-year admits, while maintaining academic quality,” Enrollment Management Vice Provost Melissa Stone says. “I’m proud of the work done on campus to better connect students with ways to make college accessible. There’s been a comprehensive prospective student communication strategy at both the graduate and undergraduate level, a partnership where students applying to UM-Ann Arbor can also indicate interest in being considered for admittance to any of the three campuses, and a revitalized need-based financial aid strategy with its cornerstone the Go Blue Guarantee.”

The Go Blue Guarantee, which began for students at UM-Dearborn this fall, is a free tuition program for high-achieving students in families earning $65,000 or less. Prior to the announcement of the Go Blue Guarantee, the university worked to pilot the program as part of the refocused need-based aid strategy. UM-Dearborn also provides extensive financial aid support to students outside of the program.

Looking at student location, there’s also a percentage bump in Michigan resident enrollment. Stone says campus attracts students in the southeast Michigan region, with strong representation from Wayne (4,919 students), Oakland (1,077 students), Macomb (386 students) and Washtenaw (329 students) counties.

First-year student Kyle Piestrak says the proximity of his parents’ house to campus played a critical role in his college choice. “I really liked campus right away, but the deciding factor was that it was 15 minutes away, tops, from my home and work. I was just promoted to a management position and wanted to be able to work while going to school,” said Piestrak, who plans to major in engineering. “UM-Dearborn has small class sizes, the major I wanted and it was close to home — it was the perfect choice for me.”

Even with these points of pride in new campus enrollment, the enrollment numbers for Fall 2021 are slightly down overall. Stone says an enrollment decrease was expected and planned for due to prior year smaller cohorts and pandemic-related uncertainties. Total Fall 2021 UM-Dearborn enrollment is 8,331 students (6,355 undergraduates, 1,976 graduate-level), compared to 8,783 in 2020.

This next year will continue efforts to rebuild our enrollment to previous levels, with particular  focus on  transfer initiatives. Transfer student enrollment was down again 13% this year, a five-year trend we are committed to reversing. She says they will look to enhance efforts with other community colleges in the region and campus is currently working with Henry Ford College to develop a program that offers a  more seamless transition for HFC students interested in UM-Dearborn.

The teams also will focus on enhancing yield efforts, developing more strategic initiatives geared towards demonstrating to students — once they are admitted — that UM-Dearborn is the right choice for advancing their education. 

Stone says campus leadership is exploring new partnerships and expanding initiatives to continue creating pathways for education. Students need higher education access to help the State of Michigan create a prepared 21st century workforce and to meet their individual career goals.

“The people on this campus know how access to education can change the trajectory of a student’s life,” Stone says. “We have strong students who are here to succeed. And wonderful faculty and staff who are giving their all to help these students reach their dreams.”

Get more information on UM-Dearborn’s Fall 2021 enrollment and trends.

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