Huron report sheds light on low enrollment

Hannah Donahue

Following the release of the Huron financial report analyzing the finances of the University of New Hampshire (UNH), enrollment has been called into question as a leading factor of the lack of revenue.  

The $600,000 33-page report detailed much of the finances including layoffs to come but failed to go further into detail of enrollment for more than just a single page (Page 19). The report listed that while the volume of applications has increased a total of 9 percent since 2014, the yield percentage had decreased “by more than two percentage points in the same period.” This means that fewer students are following through after acceptance and depositing at the university.  

“On average, students are applying to more universities than in the past which makes it challenging to balance the increased application volume with the number of accepted students needed to enroll an ideal first-year class,” UNH President James W. Dean said when asked about these numbers. 

Because of this, UNH is working hard to recruit more students and improve these numbers as they prepare for the May 1 college decision deadline, including “Postcards and Pizza” at the end of March being facilitated by UNH Admissions and Alumni Relations offices. However, according to the Union Leader in March of 2019, applications at UNH slightly decreased for the now class of 2023. 

The students who apply but choose not to attend UNH are known as non-matriculating students. The Huron report lists campus location and price of tuition after aid as reasons to not enroll. While there is no definitive reason for why enrollment has been decreasing steadily since 2017, some possible factors are that there are simply less people being born and that UNH in-state tuition is one of the highest of public universities in the country according to EAB.  

According to public UNH enrollment trends, enrollment has decreased by almost 600 students, approximately 63 percent of which being out-of-state students, from the fall of 2018 to the fall of 2019. 

President Dean seemed hopeful in an email interview and had confidence in what UNH has to offer despite enrollment numbers decreasing.  

“Demographic trends in the United States are changing and UNH is not immune,” he said discussing the decrease. “The work we are doing with Huron is critical to ensure we are pursuing revenue opportunities where appropriate and using our limited financial resources as effectively as possible.” 

President Dean spoke about his strategic plans for the university and the results of the report during the State of the University address at the Hamel Recreation Center Feb. 4 but did not mention decreases in enrollment and the potential impact on students of UNH. Many worry that it could lead to increased tuition and fees or more layoffs than those already discussed after the financial report’s release. For now, UNH has frozen in-state tuition at $18,879 for the 2020-2021 academic year. 

President Dean also discussed in the address that UNH is striving to be among the top 25 public universities in the country, listing his initiative as one of the methods to reach that goal. According to the UNH website detailing the four strategic priorities of the president, the Embrace New Hampshire initiative looks to get in-state students more interested in UNH and have students “grow up wanting to come to UNH, and it will be the first choice for the best and brightest students from New Hampshire and around the world.” If this initiative goes as planned, it could boost enrollment numbers of in-state students.  

The target number of students for the fall of 2020 has yet to be made public as UNH continues to combat this decrease in enrollment and how its impact will affect those at the university.  

“Specifically, we are focused on building relationships with high schools in the state with the goal of increasing both applications and yield from New Hampshire high schools,” stated President Dean when asked about target enrollment in relation to Embrace New Hampshire.