CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA)– There are many reasons freshman students chose U of I. “I always heard great things about the Arts and Sciences College.” said Lily Fisher. “Grown up going to the football games going on campus,” said Brooke Parker. This year the Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Andy Borst, says even more students are calling themselves an Illini. “We had record undergraduate enrollment. We had record graduate enrollment. We had a record freshman class join us this year for the first time on campus, and we’ve had our largest transfer class in the last 20 years,” said Borst.
The majority of those students come from cities in Illinois. “Well one it’s cheaper to stay in state,” said Parker. Borst says the university had an increase in state funding and started a new program to cover tuition and fees for some families. That also contributed to growth. Other Central Illinois schools are noticing a similar trend, including Richland Community College in Decatur. “More students participating. More students staying and completing their goals,” said Cristobal Valdez, President at Richland Community College.
That school saw a fourteen percent increase in enrollment this Fall. Eastern Illinois University went up 3.7 percent in enrollment compared to last fall, and Millikin University had a 4 percent increase in first year students. At a time when population in the state is decreasing, educators are happy students are still choosing Illinois. “I think it’s a direct correlation to the state investing in higher education,” said Borst. “Their end goal is to find work and not only contribute to the local economy but contribute to the state and we want to help them do that,” said Valdez.