SIU leaders and students react to first enrollment increase since 2014

Southern Illinois University saw an increase in student enrollment this year. It’s the first time it has happened since 2014
Published: Sep. 6, 2023 at 4:21 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 6, 2023 at 5:29 PM CDT
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CARBONDALE, Ill. (KFVS) - Southern Illinois University saw an increase in student enrollment in the 2023-2024 school year. It’s the first time it has happened since 2014.

School officials at SIU say they saw an increase of 2.3 percent in students. That’s the highest overall boost in the number of students in more than 20 years.

“The love that I have, I mean I bleed maroon,” said Dylan Chambers, SIU senior.

Chambers said the university’s culture keeps him coming back to Carbondale year after year.

“It’s really fun to kind of be around it and I mean just knowing that it’s like a family culture to where you’re able to contact anybody if you’re needing something, or you just need somebody to talk to for 30 minutes, it means a lot so it’s like whenever I’m wanting to return I see that and say this is where I want to be,” said Chambers.

According to SIU leaders, overall enrollment for fall 2023 is 11,359 students, or 2.3 percent more than in 2022. According to the university, that’s the highest overall boost in the number of students in 21 years and highest percentage increase in over 30 years.

Dylan’s sister, Isabella Chambers, is one of the students adding to the record enrollment.

“It feels like a home away from home, you don’t just feel like a number here you feel like you’re more a part of a community,” said Isabella Chambers.

Chancellor Austin Lane said this news is exciting. He also said they are staying committed to growing the university.

“It’s a pretty big jump, if you look at the number of students that we were able to enroll overall, if you look at those percentages compared to what it was years ago, we’re trying to make a comeback and that what we set out to do 3 years ago was to really to be realistic about the growth because we know most institutions of higher education enrollment is declining,” said Lane.

Lane said the partnerships between local high school and community colleges played a major role in attracting new students.

“The data speaks for itself; I think it should be a pride point for folks that I didn’t have the fortune or pleasure of attending SIU Carbondale,” said Lane. “It’s not my Alma Mater but I would expect anyone who attended SIU Carbondale today is feeling pretty good about their alma mater and what we’ve been able to accomplish. It’s just going to help attract more Salukis.”

Both Dylan and Isabella say they are excited to see the future of the university.

“The past has its past but this is a new type of environment, this is a new type of school and we’re just ready to keep going,” said Dylan Chambers.

Chancellor Lane said the university is on track to reach its goal of 15,000 students by 2030.

Breaking down the enrollment, 1,621 new freshmen started their college careers at SIU, which is 103 students or 6.8 percent more than in 2022. University leaders say this is the first time in at least 50 years the university has increased its freshmen class for four consecutive years.

The university also saw a 10.8 percent increase in new transfer students to 1,188. They attributed part of that to Saluki Step Ahead agreements signed with more than 40 community colleges in Illinois, Missouri and Texas since 2021.

According to SIUC, enrollment in online degree programs also increased by 9.2 percent to 2,128. On campus, they say the residential student population rose 5.5 percent.