Monday, September 24, 2018

University of Illinois to Study African-American Enrollment
The University of Illinois plans to conduct a survey to study the drop in African-American student enrollment.

Sept. 22, 2018, at 12:19 p.m.       

URBANA, Ill. (AP) — The University of Illinois plans to conduct a survey to study the drop in African-American student enrollment.

The university had 475 black students enrolled this fall, down from about 500 students last year and almost 550 in 2016, The News-Gazette reported . The 2018 number doesn't include 115 multiracial students who also identify as African-American.

University officials plan to survey the more than 700 applicants who declined the university's admission offer this year.

Finances, offers from other universities and the shrinking pool of Illinois high school students likely contributed to the drop in African-American students, university Admissions Director Andrew Borst said.

Demographic figures show that the number of African-American high school students in Illinois is dropping, according to the Office of Admissions. A drop in college enrollment is also projected for after 2025, partly because the birth rate dropped following the 2008 Great Recession, Borst said.

"We're facing a declining population; we're facing increased competition for that population," he said. "If we want more, we have to contribute more toward scholarships."

University officials hope the new Illinois Commitment program will increase enrollment, though it's not geared at minority groups. The program, which will begin next fall, will cover tuition and fees for students from a household with an annual income below the state's median income of $61,000.

"We feel like we've been doing a lot of the right things," said Kevin Pitts, vice provost for undergraduate education. "We have grown our financial aid packages. We think that's helping. Illinois Commitment is the next step."

Other recruitment or support initiatives in the past helped boost African-American enrollment, Borst said.

The university is also recruiting in new places where the population is growing, with regional admissions staff covering California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, New York and New Jersey, Borst said.

Information from: The News-Gazette,

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