CHARLESTON — Eastern Illinois University is among the few state schools statewide to log year-over-year increases in freshman and total enrollment in 2018, according to preliminary data released this month.
Those numbers continue to trend up in 2019, with freshman enrollment jumping 12.5% and overall enrollment up nearly 4%.
"We're just thrilled," said admissions director Kelly Miller.
Miller also pointed to expanded financial aid options, financed in part by AIM High, as a critical factor in attracting more students.
"We've kept our cost of attendance low and we've really focused on making college affordable for families," Miller said. "We're doing everything we can to help them with scholarships and with completing the financial aid process."
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The school is poised to get $147 million in the upcoming capital bill as well.
Josh Norman, associate vice president for enrollment management, said the number of new freshmen who hail from Charleston's immediate area jumped 48% this year. Many of those students are from rural areas — communities that Eastern and other Illinois schools increasingly are targeting in student recruitment.
"There isn't another sub-population I can identify with that big of an increase. I was honestly surprised by the impact of our efforts in the local region," Norman said. "It goes to show me that even if I think that we're at saturation, there's still potential if we're innovative in our strategies."
— Chicago Tribune