CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - In 2007, 20,983 students were enrolled at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale according to the school's website. Today, there are only 14,554. Over the years there has been a gradual decline in students going to the school, with sharper per year declines happening in the past five years.
According to Mayor of Carbondale, Mike Henry, residents feel the effect of the school's lowering numbers as it's biggest employer.
"Every student brings about $10,000 out when they're here in town so when you lose a thousand students, you lose $10,000,000," Henry said. "So we all know that that turns over up to five times that in the community, so it's a significant impact for us."
Mayor Henry attributed much of the lower enrollment numbers to Illinois not having a state budget in 2015 and 2016. He said parents didn't want to send their children to programs that could potentially not exist by the time they graduated.
He also said rising competition from other major schools in the area during that time period has a lot to do with it as.
"It's easy to go to one of the schools in the states that surround us. They started matching our tuition. They charged in-state tuition to out-of-state students so Illinois students could go there as if they were in-state."
Although the Mayor recognizes the issues, he feels the school can turn things around with the help of it's new chancellor, Carlo Montemagno. He said Montemagno is working to find out how the school can improve by conducting surveys on campus to get an idea of where the school wants to be by 2020.