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Data shows Michigan had nation's steepest yearly decline in college enrollment

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Fidel Fernando
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Michigan had the steepest decline in college enrollment in the country this year.

That's according to data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, which has been tracking enrollment rates by state since 2019. It shows a 4% year-on-year decrease in enrollment in Michigan's public colleges and universities.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, public college and university enrollment rates have declined nationwide.

Daniel Hurley, CEO of the Michigan Association of State Universities, attributed the decline to three primary factors: relatively high tuition costs, decreasing high school graduation rates, and the economic pressures of the pandemic.

“We have been a state that has been a higher tuition price state nationally, given two decades of divestment by the state and its public universities,” he said. “And we do have a significant demographic challenge in Michigan. We have a diminishing number of high school graduates with every graduating class.”

However, Hurley said there is a lot for students to look forward to. State lawmakers of both political parties have backed policies that fund affordable higher education.

“Our state lawmakers have come together in this political season in a bipartisan manner to make a major investment in college affordability for all students attending all colleges and universities in the state,” Hurley said.

That includes the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, which was signed into law by Governor Whitmer this month. This program aims to provide current high school seniors with demonstrated financial need with up to $5,500 per year towards tuition.

Emily is a junior at the University of Michigan double majoring in Communications and Creative Writing.
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