Wright State University’s enrollment this semester increased 2.2% from the previous year, the first growth of overall student population since fall 2015.
“We are thrilled that more students in the region and throughout Ohio are recognizing that Wright State provides an affordable, quality education,” said Susan Schaurer, vice president of enrollment at Wright State. “It’s a great return on investment. It is a high-quality degree.”
Wright State had seen an overall decline in enrollment between 2018 to 2022 year over year up until this fall. The enrollment decline forced the university to lay off faculty and staff in 2021. It also led to fewer tuition dollars for the university.
Wright State administrators said 1,713 first-time students enrolled this semester, an 11% increase from the fall of 2022 and the highest number of first-time students since the fall of 2018.
The university noted this is the second consecutive year that the number of first-time students at Wright State increased by more than 10%.
First-time students are students who enrolled in the university for the first time, whether they are freshmen undergraduates, master’s students or in another program.
At Wright State’s main campus in Fairborn, the number of first-time students enrolled increased by about 31% compared to fall 2021 semester, Wright State said.
In total, 11,036 students are enrolled this semester at Wright State. In fall 2022, WSU reported 10,879 students at their campuses, according to the Ohio Department of Higher Education.
Wright State saw about a 30% decline in enrollment between fall 2015 and fall 2020, according to the university.
University officials also noted that many of the new students were eligible for Pell Grants, which are awarded to low-income students, and that many were from the Dayton area that Wright State primarily serves.
About 41% of first-time students were eligible for Pell grants and 92% of first-time students were from Ohio. Pell Grant-eligible students are notable for Wright State because the university advertises itself as an affordable way to get a quality college degree.
“This is a great sign not just for Wright State but also for the economic development of the region, with 92% of the first-time cohort represented from the state of Ohio and, most importantly, the Dayton region,” said Wright State president Sue Edwards.
Schaurer credited the university’s work to promote
The university has among the lowest four-year tuition in the state. WSU students who started this year will pay $11,138 for two semesters at the university, compared to $12,859 at Ohio State University’s main campus or $17,808 at Miami University.
Only one other Ohio public university charges less than WSU. Shawnee State University in Portsmouth charged $9,621.52 for two semesters for first-year students this fall.
Under Ohio law, public universities in Ohio set tuition based on cohorts. The fall 2022 cohort, if they continue at Wright State for four years of a bachelor’s degree, will pay the same amount each semester for all four years.
University trustees congratulated the president and enrollment team during a public meeting on Friday morning.
“Today we are celebrating an enrollment that finally surpasses 11,000 students,” said Tom Gunlock, chair of the board of trustees. “It’s taken eight years and we’ve achieved that because we’re meeting the students where they are and impressing them and their families with the attitude of caring and student success.”
Gunlock said the university would continue to work on customer service and finding amenities that students enjoy. He argued what sets Ohio universities apart in this age of competition for students are dorms and other campus amenities. There are now fewer students in Ohio high schools than there were five years ago.
“Providing students a great experience and providing them exceptional customer service is not a choice in today’s world,” Gunlock said. “If we don’t do that, Wright State will quickly become irrelevant.”
University officials showed several examples of working with the students, including a video of a clap-in for new students, a video gaming room with Wright State logos on the chairs, which Edwards said were given by a donation, and work on facilities that the university did over the summer.