COLLEGES + UNIVERSITIES

Utah out-paces most of the country in college enrollment

Feb 17, 2024, 6:00 AM

University graduates are pictured on Thursday, April 27, 2023....

University graduates are pictured on Thursday, April 27, 2023. Utah had a 4.3% college enrollment growth for Fall 2023 and is the second highest in the country. Montana is in first place with 7.1% growth. (Spenser Heaps/Deseret News)

(Spenser Heaps/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah had a 4.3% college enrollment growth for Fall 2023 and is the second highest in the country. Montana is in first place with 7.1% growth.

“It’s counter to what we’re seeing with national trends,” said Geoff Landward, Interim Commissioner of the Utah System of Higher Education. “Nationally, enrollment is trending downward.  So we’re really thrilled.”

Utah’s population growth and high birth rate have played a role in more people enrolling in college. Additionally, Utah’s booming economy creates more opportunities. Utah also has very affordable college tuition when compared to other states.

“A lot more people are feeling like ‘I can do this, I can access higher education and I can get a degree,” Landward said.

Additionally, K-12 schools in Utah are working hard to create pathways for students to get higher education.  The state also sets targets for secondary education institutions to incentivize them to grow. If they hit those targets in all three areas, schools get additional funding from the legislature to help build their programs.

The state sets targets for higher education in 3 areas:

  1. The percentage of high school graduates that enroll.
  2. The percentage of students that graduate or get a certificate.
  3. The percentage of students that graduate in a high-demand, high-wage field.

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Utah out-paces most of the country in college enrollment