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University of Montana campus, Missoula

University of Montana campus

Summer enrollment grew 17 percent year over year at the University of Montana and marked the highest summer count at the flagship since 2014, according to UM.

This summer semester, 2,932 students registered for classes compared to 2,493 last year.

UM, in a news release, attributed the jump to the work of "several campus committees"; an increase in online offerings to a record 185; "interesting'' classes such as sustainable farming and watershed science; and the ability of students to use Pell Grants for summer courses.

In a statement, Cathy Cole, vice president for enrollment and communications, praised the work of the Office of the Provost for the growth.

"They worked very hard to provide a mix of required courses that students need for their degrees and some interesting electives that are unique to the summer experience in Montana," the newly-appointed vice president said.

In an email, Alex Butler, president of the Associated Students of the University of Montana, said students have had "very positive" reactions to summer courses, in part because it's hard to be a full-time student in the fall and spring while also working part time or full time.

"I like that we can provide more options for students to finish their degree in a way that suits them best," Butler said. "I've taken a class during the summer so that my course load in the fall wasn't too bad."

UM plans to eliminate winter session, and Butler said he believes that change may have some impact on the increase in summer enrollment, as well.

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UM noted it is still preparing for an enrollment drop in the fall given the large graduating class last spring of 1,772 students and the 463 students expected to graduate this summer. UM has experienced an enrollment drop of 28.5 percent since 2010, although it stemmed a decrease in freshman numbers last fall.

In an email, communications director Paula Short shared the status of some of the indicators the campus tracks in order to project enrollment. She noted fall orientation registration numbers "look comparable to last year," although she said it isn't clear how registration correlates to the size of the incoming class.

Short also said UM has fewer housing deposits to date this year compared to last year, although the number is improving each day. Specific numbers for housing deposits and orientation registration were not available Monday afternoon.

Short said the campus has been working to increase the number of students who successfully applied but hadn't yet registered. Last spring, she said UM noted applications were down from the previous year, and the campus had "some delays in financial aid awarding" last fall and early spring.

"At that time, we launched a number of strategies aimed at both yielding new students and getting our returning students registered for class.

"We've made up some ground in comparing the trend data, but we won't know for certain how much until our students arrive on campus in the fall," Short said.

UM accepts students right up to the start of classes.

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University of Montana, higher education