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UVA sees enrollment increase, despite smallest first-year class since 2016

UVA saw total enrollment and diversity increase, despite the Class of 2024 being its smallest in four years.
UVA saw total enrollment and diversity increase, despite the Class of 2024 being its smallest in four years.(NBC29)
Published: Oct. 12, 2020 at 6:16 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Despite the pandemic, and thoughts that students would balk at 4-year universities due to hybrid or entirely virtual learning, the University of Virginia (UVA) saw total enrollment rise once again. The increase came even as the Class of 2024 is the school’s smallest incoming group of first-years since 2016.

Many people thought that students would opt for gap years or 2-year degrees, putting off the cost of larger schools until COVID-19 was under control. UVA Dean of Admissions Greg Roberts says that was a concern, but ultimately one they were able to overcome.

“We spent most of the summer wrestling with, you know, making additional offers and trying to find ways to mitigate attrition over the summer,” Roberts said. “Our summer melt is what we call it. It was a little bit larger than normal, but we were able to compensate by making a few more offers in the end that allowed us to hit our targets.”

Enrollment rose to 25,642, an increase of 624 from 2019. That increase coincides with an incoming first-year class that is the smallest in four years, just 3,785 students. The acceptance rate was lower, but that’s something Roberts says is due to actually being over-enrolled in previous years.

“We don’t change the target when the previous class, you know, exceeds or is lower than what we anticipated,” Roberts explained. “We go with what we had planned all along. The offer rate was really just about identical.”

UVA also hails the Class of 2024 as the most diverse in the university’s history. Minority students make up 37% of that class, up 2% from the year before. African-American students make up 7.1% of the class, up from 6.8% last year. Similar trends can be seen in Hispanic enrollment which also jumped to 7.1%. Asian students comprise 17.2% of incoming first-years compared to 16.5% the year before.

“We’re just happy to continually progress,” Roberts said. “We’re not where we want to be, but I think we have made great progress over the past handful of years.”

Two places UVA did not see growth: the number of low-income students and students needing financial assistance for tuition. While the number low-income students fell slightly, down nearly 6% from 2019, the loss of students with needs is steeper. That group dropped nearly 8% from 2019, but still makes up 37% of the class: 1,410 students.

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