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Penn State Enrollment Remains Steady Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Penn State’s enrollment for the fall 2020 semester has only slightly decreased over the past year, according to a university report published Monday.

The modest decrease places Penn State well ahead of the national average of 3% during the pandemic. Penn State campuses saw a 1.8% decline, as there are 1,611 fewer current enrollments compared to last year, which places the university total at 89,816 enrolled students.

However, Penn State did see growth in the overall diversity of its students and increased enrollment in graduate schools, professional programs, and World Campus programs.

“Penn State has always strived to serve students from low-income backgrounds, and these are thought to be the individuals who have been hit hardest by recent economic impacts during the pandemic,” Rob Pangborn, vice president and dean for Undergraduate Education, said. “Within this context, we are pleased to maintain stable enrollment figures and to deliver on our land-grant mission to serve many low-income families and first-generation students.”

The overall decline is generally due to students deferring their enrollment to the spring or fall of 2021. More than 1,050 undergraduates deferred this year compared to just 305 undergraduates in 2019, which indicates an overall undergraduate enrollment decrease of 2.3%.

The overall diversity of students enrolled has grown since last year as well. 13.6% of the overall student body are members of underrepresented groups, which is a 3.8% increase from 2018.

“We also are seeing increases among underrepresented students, in the World Campus and in many of our graduate and professional programs,” Pangborn said. “The Penn State brand and reputation remain strong and are helping us to weather these challenging times.” 

International enrollment decreased slightly to 10.3% from 11.4% of the total in the previous year. The decrease is consistent with nationwide trends.

Additionally, the proportion of students enrolled at Penn State who are Pennsylvania residents held steady between 2019 and 2020 at 60.5%.

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About the Author

Charles Reinert

Charles Reinert is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. He hails from Norristown, Pennsylvania and is an avid Philadelphia sports fan. He loves playing his guitar, the color blue, and Tetris. If you feel the need to give him any positive or negative feedback, you can follow him on Twitter @charles_rein10 or email him at [email protected]

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