SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As universities and colleges all over the country grow concerned about stagnant enrollment numbers due to the pandemic, there’s some good news for one South Dakota university.
The University of Sioux Falls is welcoming a record tying number of freshman students.
The more than 300 freshman students ties a record for USF set in 2019. The president of the 138-year-old school says seeing the enrollment numbers was a pleasant surprise.
“The estimate we made for this year was conservative based on what we anticipated could be the fallout from the pandemic,” USF President Brett Bradfield said.
USF dropped its tuition rates about 4 years ago. It was a pretty major drop and the students we talked with today say that played a role in their decision to come here.
Phlip Lenaugh and Annika Leewarner are two of the 303 new traditional freshmen on campus. Philip is form Mission and Annika is from Seattle. They both say economics played a role in their decisions.
“I come from a poor area so tuition and everything was a must to look at and USF offers a lot of good scholarships,” Lenaugh said.
“I can go here and feel really good about it, and I actually didn’t have to take out any loans. So that was a huge thing,” said Leewarmer.
President Bradfield says they’ve worked to bring new programs to USF like an undergraduate degree in Data Science, while keeping an eye on the bottom line.
“We saw that higher education is an expensive enterprise for families and we felt if we were true to our mission and that mission is out degrees lead to an improved quality of life, however you measure that, then we needed to be part of the solution to make that sort of education accessible and available to all people regardless of socioeconomic status,” Bradfield said.
USF says 100 percent of full time freshman students receive some kind of financial aid.
USF currently has a student body of 1,624 students. It was founded in 1883, and affiliated with the American Baptist Church.