There are 498 fewer students attending Western Illinois University this fall than at this time last year.
The financial impact quickly adds up. WIU Budget Director Matt Bierman said each student lost costs the university $8,405 in tuition (based on 15 credit hours), $2,543 in fees (again based on 15 credit hours), and $9,190 in room and board.
“There’s several million dollars there that won’t necessarily be seen as was maybe projected to be seen,” said Bierman.
“The good news is students who are here are actually taking more classes. So our credit hours are up just a little bit.”
He said in terms of credit hours, enrollment dropped the equivalent of just 400 students.
Nonetheless, he said President Jack Thomas and his leadership team are deciding how much will need to be cut and what budget items will be impacted.
“There will be some reductions because of this (the enrollment decline) and because of some expense obligations,” Bierman said.
New student enrollment is down by a bit more than 100. The biggest decline is in the number of last year’s freshmen who did not return for their sophomore year.
WIU feels there is a silver lining in its enrollment numbers. The average ACT score for incoming freshmen exceeded both the state and national averages.
Bierman said most of Illinois’ other public universities also experienced enrollment declines this fall. He said the high school Class of 2014 is expected to be smaller than this year’s, which will make recruitment even more competitive in the coming year.
Enrollment Impact on the City
The City of Macomb plans to have a special census done during the latter part of this month. The city hopes to boost its official population number, and despite the drop in WIU’s enrollment, Mayor Mike Inman is confident the city will increase its figure.
“Grand Prairie assisted living has expanded. Wesley Village has had some significant expansion. We believe that we can pick up some numbers there. We have those blocks targeted,” Inman said.
Inman said for each person added to Macomb’s official population figure, the city will receive up to an additional $120 per year for six years.
The special census will cost the city $91,000. Inman believes the added revenue generated from the population increase will easily offset that cost.