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Ferris State University Makes Gains in Attracting First-Year Students; Overall Enrollment Tops 10K


Ferris State University has topped 10,000 to begin the 2022-23 academic year across all campuses.

Ferris State University, celebrating its 138th anniversary, has announced that its Fall 2022 enrollment stands at 10,072 across all campuses. On its Big Rapids campus, student enrollment is 7,882, an increase of 50 students from Fall 2021.

“We are elated that both the Big Rapids and Kendall College of Art and Design campuses saw healthy increases in the number of first-time students this fall,” said Kristen Salomonson, dean of Enrollment Services. “The Big Rapids campus first-time number increased over 23 percent, 311 students, over last year, while the KCAD campus increased 31 percent, or 19 students, over last fall.”

While this fall’s overall enrollment represents a 2.8 percent systemwide decrease from Fall 2021, when the university welcomed 10,361 students, Salomonson noted a 20-plus percent increase in new students, indicative of Ferris’ successful gains in attracting first-year students in Big Rapids, at KCAD and at statewide locations.

“We’re excited about the energy on our campuses as we begin this new academic year,” President Bill Pink said. “While we’re enthusiastic about topping 10,000 for our overall enrollment, retention remains a major focus as we work to create the best academic and social environment for our students. Our ultimate goal is to recruit, retain and graduate our students, welcome them to our Alumni Association and see them off to a good start in successful careers across Michigan and beyond.”

Included in Ferris’ total enrollment, 1,749 are first-year students – up from 1,410 last fall, representing an increase of 339. In addition, enrollment data indicates gains in attracting students from diverse backgrounds, as African American students increased by 56 and Native Americans by 23.

Fall 2022 enrollment at KCAD in Grand Rapids is 565 students, while enrollment at Ferris’ 22 statewide locations is 1,031 students. In addition, the number of online student credit hours taken is up by seven percent from Fall 2021.

“Students and parents grow more savvy each year when deciding where to attend college. They demand the total package – quality academics, hands-on opportunities, vibrant student life and high return on investment,” Salomonson said. “Ferris State University’s distinctive blend of affordability, educational experiences and social mobility is unmatched in Michigan. Students notice we deliver on giving them the tools they need to move forward successfully.”

“Looking ahead, the university is focused on enrollment growth in multiple areas. Ferris has many new programs, including associate degrees in Computer Information Technology and Community Leadership; bachelor’s degrees in Professional Esports Production, Artificial Intelligence and Economics; and a master’s degree in Data Science and Analytics that we believe will attract more students to the university,” said Jeanine Ward-Roof, vice president for Student Affairs. “The athletic success of our intercollegiate teams also has given us more exposure to potential new student markets and will only bolster our enrollment.”

For more than a decade, Ferris has increased financial aid and donor scholarship support, lowering Ferris’ attendance net price, the average amount students and families pay for the academic year after receiving scholarships and grants. In the FY23 preliminary general operating budget approved by Ferris’ Board of Trustees in June 2022, the university increased its student financial aid spending to $27 million while reducing operating expenses by 0.3 percent. In addition, through the university’s first-ever comprehensive campaign, Ferris has generated more than $25 million in endowed student scholarship support.

In late August, Ferris kicked off the 2021-22 academic year with Bulldog Beginnings, two-plus weeks of activities to welcome students to campus.