Richmond, VA

VCU enrollment drops for fourth consecutive year

Margaret Minnicks

The student enrollment at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, Virginia has been dropping lower and lower for four consecutive years. In 2018, more than 31,000 students pursued 217 degree and certificate programs through VCU's 11 schools and three colleges. Currently, the enrollment is down to only about 28,300 students. That's down 9% from what it was just four years ago.

Possible reasons for low enrollment

Fewer students are choosing VCU as their university for numerous reasons:

  • competition from colleges in other states
  • Virginia graduates are leaving the state
  • Non-Virginia graduates are not coming into the state
  • high cost of tuition
  • increase in rent in downtown Richmond
  • reports of danger on campus
  • graduates are going into the workforce instead of going to college

Colleges outside Virginia are courting high school graduates in Virginia, and they are succeeding. VCU's biggest out-of-state competitors include North Carolina State and the University of Alabama.

Todd Haymore, a member of the board of visitors, says:

"It is real, and it is shocking how hard schools in other states pursue Virginia high schoolers."

Alternatives to college

The pandemic forced many low-income families to rethink whether to send their children to college or into the workforce. Employers are offering better entry-level salaries. Therefore some high school graduates are choosing to immediately enter the workforce to make money instead of paying for the high cost of college.

More than 20,000 VCU students live off campus. The average rent has soared 36% from what it was just one year ago, according to Rent.com. A one-bedroom apartment costs more than $1,500 per month.

VCU's plans

Virginia Commonwealth University is trying to do something about the decline in student enrollment. The school wants to increase its number of out-of-state students. It also wants to keep more students already enrolled at VCU from leaving college without a degree.

The university is freezing the cost of tuition for its 20,000 in-state undergraduate students. That is because a week ago Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin asked 10 state colleges to reverse their tuition increases. Out-of-state and graduate students will still pay a 3% increase.

Karol Kain Gray, the university’s chief financial officer, said the tuition freeze will last for only one year. The school plans to raise its tuition in the fall of 2023.

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I love pop culture, movies, television, and entertainment. I keep up to date on the latest movies and television shows. I like sharing news about them. I also like sharing information about different foods and their health benefits. I have been a high school teacher and a college professor for over 50 years and an online writer for over 30 years. I have three degrees: BA in English and Literature, MA in Christian Education, and MDiv in Theology. Get to know me through my writing.

Richmond, VA
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