Kansas colleges and universities see 8.1% drop in enrollment

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Uncertainty caused by the COVID—19 pandemic contributed to an 8.1% decline in enrollment at Kansas universities and colleges this fall, the Kansas Board of Regents announced Thursday.

Most leaders of the state's universities, colleges and technical colleges had predicted a drop in enrollment this semester because of the coronavirus outbreak, and some said Thursday the decrease was not has high as they had expected.

Regents president and CEO Blake Flanders said schools have faced challenges in recruiting new freshman and international students, as well as retaining existing students. He said the institutions also face long-term obstacles, such as a decline in the number of Kansas high school students going to college.

The Regents measure enrollment by student headcount and full-time enrollment equivalency, which is calculated by dividing the total number of undergraduate credit hours by 15 and the total number of graduate credit hours by 12, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

At the six four-year universities, enrollment decreased by 2,677 full-time equivalent students, or 3.6%. Community college enrollment dropped 4,737 full-time equivalent students, or 11.7%, at the community colleges, and technical colleges reported a decline of 518 full-time equivalent students, or 8.7%.

The University of Kansas' enrollment fell by 804 students, or 2.8%, to 27,619 students across all campuses. Chancellor Douglas Girod said international student enrollment accounted for more than half of this year’s decline.

“Given the historic challenges the pandemic has presented students and families, we are pleased to have experienced such a relatively modest decline in our enrollment,” Girod said.

Kansas State University, the state’s second-largest university, reported a decline of 901 students, or 4.9%, at the university and the Kansas State College of Veterinary Medicine, which reports data separately from the university.

Karen Goos, vice provost for enrollment management at Kansas State, also said the university had expected a larger decline.

Leaders at the two-year institutions also said they expected a sharper drop in enrollment because their students tend to have greater barriers to education that were intensified by COVID-19.

Kansans who lost their jobs because of the pandemic will be eligible for an additional $300 in unemployment beginning Friday.

Gov. Laura Kelly said the Kansas Department of Labor will begin processing applications for benefits from the state's Lost Wages Assistance program Friday. Applicants must verify that they lost their jobs because of disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Kansas has paid more than 2.5 million weekly unemployment claims totaling more than $2 billion since March 15, the governor's office said.

The governor's office also announced Thursday that applications are being taken for $40 million in grants and resources to support remote learning for school-age children. The Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund will administer the funds, which will be awarded on an ongoing basis.