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Montana Colleges See Enrollment Decline Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

A metal sculpture of a grizzly bear stands in the middle of the University of Montana's oval, with Main Hall in the background.
John Burnham
Montana Public Radio

Montana’s flagship universities released their spring 2021 enrollment numbers this week, with both  reporting fewer students than a year ago. MTPR's Aaron Bolton reports on how those schools are faring through the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to enrollment data from the University of Montana, the number of total students at its campuses is down 7.3% from a year ago. Fewer students enrolled this school year amid the pandemic and UM has lost 3% of its students that were enrolled last fall.

In a press release Tuesday, UM said it was happy with its fall-to-spring student retention as the pandemic continues to reshape every aspect of college life.UM’s overall student enrollment continues to slide with a nearly 11% drop over the past two years.

Montana State University also started last fall with a smaller incoming class. MSU total student enrollment has dropped 3% compared to this time last year, and 7.4% since the fall.

Colleges across the country have struggled as enrollment of newly graduated high school seniors this fall fell about 22% compared to 2019. UM was not far behindwith a roughly 16% drop in freshman fall enrollment. MSU's freshman enrollment this fall remained nearly identical to its 2019 numbers. 
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