COLUMBIA (AP) - A steady surge in out-of-state students is behind what looks to be another year of record-breaking freshman enrollment at the University of Missouri's flagship campus in Columbia.
The Columbia Daily Tribune reported Wednesday that school officials anticipate a fall undergraduate enrollment of nearly 6,300 first-year students. That would be an increase of about 120 students from fall 2010 and a boost of more than 650 students from fall 2009.
Missouri has seen record enrollment for several consecutive years, with nearly 25,000 undergraduates and about 32,000 total students in the most recent academic year.
The fall projections are based on the number of students who paid deposits and did not request refunds by the May 1 deadline. The number of expected students is slightly down this year for Missouri residents but is nearly 10 percent higher for out-of-state students.
That reflects a concerted effort to recruit from outside of Missouri, campus officials said - and not just because non-Missouri residents pay nearly three times as much in tuition.
"Certainly we continue to recruit heavily in Missouri - that will never change," said Ann Korschgen, vice provost for enrollment. "But being aware of the demographic decline ahead of us, we've spent more time in Illinois and Texas. We've been met with wonderful success, especially in Illinois."
Demographic projections suggest that about 2,000 fewer Missouri students are expected to graduate from high school this year after a steady run of increases. The decline is due to decreases in the state's population rather than an increase in dropout rates.
The number of high school graduates in Missouri will continue to fall through 2014, according to university research analyst Mark Ehlert. The Class of 2014 will represent the state's lowest graduate population since 2002.
Nearly 1,200 students from Illinois have deposited money with the intent to enroll this fall, up from 1,045 last year. Missouri is just one of many out-of-state schools targeting students in the Chicago area and beyond with locally based recruiters
Missouri is also starting to focus on California, which, like Texas, has large research institutions that are capped and is turning away more students.
An increase in transfer students is also behind the projected enrollment increase, officials said. That group includes Missouri students who thought they wanted to study out of state but are ready to come home.