The University of Northern Iowa reports a significant drop in its 2012 fall enrollment -- 12,273, down nearly 900 students from 2011.
The report means fewer people are attending UNI this fall than anytime since 2006.
Freshman Allie Waters chose to come to UNI because of its program offerings and student aid options. It also seemed like a good fit.
"I like the medium size school, rather than the large school or small school. It just felt like home," said Waters.
Waters is surprised to learn UNI enrollment dropped nearly seven percent from last fall.
"It's a great school, I don't know why people aren't coming here," she said.
University spokesperson James O'Connor said Northern Iowa officials expected to deal with a population drop this year. He said there are several factors which play into enrollment trends. Spring graduation is one of them.
"Last year, we had a really large graduating class. 240 students more than normal. Which is a good thing," he said.
But the spring also brought some difficult times for the university. UNI President Ben Allen approved some major cuts to program offerings and closed Malcolm Price Laboratory School. But O'Connor said, early estimates show the cuts had little impact on enrollment.
"If you looked at the incoming students who had said they wanted to major in those programs, it was less than a dozen. So the impact on those students was very, very small and most of those students decided to major in something else and still come to UNI," he said.
What did affect enrollment is the decline in the number of students graduating from high school in Iowa. Considering 92% UNI students are from in-state, this year's freshman class took a big hit.
"Freshman enrollment, right out of high school, was down about 12%. Obviously, the competition for high school students is heating up in a way we haven't seen before, so it's something we need to address," said O'Connor.
O'Connor added, they planned for the enrollment decline when developing this year's budget. So the drop won't impact the education of students like Waters.
UNI did have an enrollment increase in one area. The number of multicultural students attending the Cedar Falls school is at an all-time high of more than 8%.
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