Preliminary numbers suggest another strong fall enrollment at Ohio University’s Athens campus

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Enrollment for fall 2023 at Ohio University is tracking higher than it was last year, when the university saw record enrollment.

Ohio University's class gateway at College Green, photographed on May 2, 2019
Ohio University’s class gateway at College Green, photographed on May 2, 2019 [Michelle Rotuno-Johnson | WOUB]

As of April 5, slightly more than 3,200 students have confirmed they will enroll in the fall, significantly more than the 2,822 students who confirmed this time last year. The number of applications so far for fall 2023 also remained stable at 26,190, compared to 26,480 in April 2022.

However, these figures do not necessarily mean the university will meet or exceed last year’s record fall enrollment. It depends on how many more confirmations the university receives before the start of fall semester.

Vice President for Enrollment Management Candace Boeninger remains optimistic, citing promising developments including increased student retention.

“Our huge freshmen class that came in fall ’22 came back for spring ’23 at higher rates than we have seen in recent years,” Boeninger told the university’s trustees at a meeting Thursday. “Our goal was to be flat with admits for last year and it looks like we’re going to be able to perhaps do just a little bit better than last year.”

Boeninger cited strong, stable medical school enrollment. But she informed trustees there has been a decline in regional campus enrollment and in some graduate programs.

Strong student projections lead to strong financial projections

The university’s financial outlook remains healthy thanks in part to strong enrollment, with a $39 million surplus forecast for the 2023 fiscal year that ends June 30.

“The top line is really a product of the higher level of enrollment,” Senior Vice President Mark Heil told trustees on Friday. “We also saw a higher level of federal grants that were not budgeted.”

Heil said compensation expenses increased as a result of bringing on additional staff to support the higher enrollment.

“We also have seen a fairly significant increase in benefits cost as a national trend,” Heil said. “It’s not unique to us here.”

Heil told the board the budget for fiscal year 2024 is not yet finalized.

“We have significant input variables to place into that FY 2024 budget that we’re not certain about,” Heil said.

These variables include support for instruction, what grants and awards Ohio University will receive and whether the university increases tuition, which could impact enrollment. Heil also said the finance office will keep a close eye on enrollment levels for fiscal year 2024.