AU Welcomes Largest Incoming Class Since 1978; Enrollment Tops 2,000

Augustana reports record enrollment.

Members of the Augustana Class of 2021 walk across campus following Opening Convocation earlier this month. 

More students are choosing to Be a Viking at Augustana University — a lot more students.

The University today reported its largest incoming class since 1978 — 481 first-year students from 20 states and 10 countries began classes at AU last week, an increase of 14 percent from last year.

The University’s newest Vikings join existing students, as well as 331 graduate students, for a total headcount of 2,080, a 7.5 percent increase from last year. This marks Augustana’s largest enrollment since 1990.

This fall, Augustana’s 100-acre campus is home to students from 33 states and 32 countries.

The official numbers, announced by the Registrar’s Office, illustrate Augustana’s continued efforts to serve more students and foster their success; provide substantive and innovative educational experiences; cultivate strategic partnerships; steward its resources; and pursue greater brand awareness — the five major goals outlined in “Horizons 2019,” the University’s strategic plan.

“It is, without question, a great day to be a Viking at Augustana University. There’s an extraordinary sense of excitement and momentum alive on campus today. As we begin a new academic year, we celebrate the opportunity to serve more students. We’re excited to provide them with an education of enduring worth — an opportunity to discover new ideas; attain knowledge and develop skills highly valued in today’s workplace; and build experience and connections through internships, research, clinical work and study abroad opportunities. This is all part of our mission to help young people launch meaningful careers and build lives of purpose and service.”

Stephanie Herseth Sandlin

When it comes to helping students launch their careers, Augustana is nationally known for its success. In July, Money ranked the University No. 168 among 711 colleges and universities nationwide for its 98 percent job placement rate, as well as its education quality and affordability. See the full Outcomes Report for recent graduates.

Scholarship Opportunities and Enrollment

AU officials point to a strong endowment and consistent support from alumni and friends as another factor behind the growth in enrollment.

This fall, 100 percent of full time students are receiving scholarships or financial aid — critical support that lowers the out-of-pocket costs for students and families. According to the Financial Aid Office, the average price for new, domestic first-year students this fall was $15,978 after all sources of gift aid (scholarships, grants, etc).

AU Financial Aid officials said in many cases, families discover that the University’s financial aid package made attending Augustana just as affordable as attending a public university — and in some cases, more so.

Augustana is nationally recognized for its commitment to providing scholarship opportunities. In August, a Time/Money report ranked AU among the top 10 universities nationwide for the number and size of scholarships it awards to students.

Retaining More Students

University officials said an increased freshman-to-sophomore retention rate is another factor behind the increased enrollment.

Augustana saw an 86 percent retention rate for fall 2017 — the University’s highest first-to-second year retention in recorded history.

The uptick in retention is due to a series of initiatives designed to better serve students, including:

  • The Student Success Center, a central place for career and academic support services — a hub for educational and vocational engagement.
  • A revised core curriculum designed for the innovators and entrepreneurs of tomorrow.
  • The First-Year Seminar (FYS), a two-semester program that serves to orient students to academics and campus life at AU. In addition to its collection of innovative courses, FYS also enables students to connect with professors, fellow students and campus resources, such as the Student Success Center. Each FYS course is designed to help students develop the writing, critical thinking, communication and ethical reasoning skills they’ll need for their Augustana academic career, and to engage difficult questions throughout their life.

Kelly Sprecher
Director of Media Relations