Class of 2024 sees decrease in enrollment

The University of Iowa released its fall enrollment numbers, revealing statistics about the freshman class.


The Old Capitol is seen on Nov. 19, 2019.

Natalie Dunlap, News Reporter

The incoming freshman class at the University of Iowa — embarking on the college journey under unprecedented circumstances — saw an anticipated dip in enrolled students.

The class of 2024 has 456 fewer students than the class of 2023, with a total of 4,530, according to fall enrollment numbers released on Thursday. The report cited COVID-19 as the cause for decreased enrollment. Graduate students total 6,170 — 270 more than in fall 2019 — and professional students total 1,873 — 25 more than the previous year.

The class of 2024 entered the University of Iowa under circumstances unlike any class before them. Though this year has presented many unknowns to first-year students, the university now has more information about the class as a whole.

In an email to The Daily Iowan, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management Brent Gage said the UI did not have a way to predict the impact the pandemic would have on enrollment, but they knew “personal health factors, family members at risk, and changes to their financial situation” would impact students’ decision to enroll.

“We are very happy with our fall enrollment, as there were so many new challenges to overcome as we prepared for the fall,” Gage said. “Our goal was to enroll 4,700-5,000 new students and with the loss of so many international students that were unable to enroll, getting above 4,500 is a testament to the many hours our admissions team worked to bring these students to campus.”

In May, University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld told the state Board of Regents that the UI anticipated enrollment would be down around 9-10 percent. Enrollment in graduate and professional programs, he anticipated, would rise as students choose to enroll in advanced degree programs rather than enter the job market with high unemployment.

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Aside from the decrease in enrollment, the 2024 class looks very similar to previous years. About 21 percent of the class are first-generation students, compared to last year’s 22 percent.

Students that identify as members of a minority group also make up 21 percent of the class of 2024, a one percent increase from last year. Iowa residents makeup 58 percent of this year’s class, a two percent increase from last year.

The percentage of international students stayed consistent, making up two percent of the class of 2023 and 2024.

According to the report, this is the fourth consecutive year that the first-year class has beat previous records for highest high school GPA at the UI. The class of 2024 averaged a 3.78 GPA, topping last year’s 3.76 mark.

Vice President for Student Life Sarah Hansen said in the report released on Thursday that the UI will overcome the challenges the university faces with COVID-19, as it has overcome adversity in the past.

“This year’s incoming class is as accomplished and diverse as ever, and I know that they will make their mark on the University of Iowa,” Hansen said. “The Class of 2024 has already shown their resiliency as their senior year in high school was disrupted. We are so grateful to have them here on campus, and I look forward to working with our new students to continue our commitment to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive campus community for all Hawkeyes.”

Looking ahead at the class of 2025, Gage said the circumstances of COVID-19 have taught the Office of Enrollment Management team how important virtual tools are in engaging students across the country.

“It was common to have students from 20-30 different states attend our virtual admissions programs over the summer. Providing these programs in a virtual format provided students an opportunity to attend a program they would not have been able to otherwise,” Gage said. “There were also many students who did plan to enroll but have chosen to wait until next fall. This is something we are planning to monitor closely so we can manage enrollment next fall.”