James Madison University Board of Visitors talks enrollment numbers

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — James Madison University enrollment was down this year and the Board of Visitors said it anticipates enrollment to be down in the next six years, but said it is not because people do not want to attend JMU.

The James Madison University Board of Visitors during their meeting on Friday. | Credit: WHSV

The board identified possible reasons for the decline with financial aid and scholarships being the big focus. They said they're also seeing more students wanting to stay closer to home or pursuing other options besides attending a university. Those not graduating high school was also a factor.

Applications to the university have been increasing each year, but the conversion of getting the students to the campus seems to be the major challenge. The Unleashed campaign has been a response to help address the enrollment issue.

In the next six years, the board hopes to see freshmen enrollment grow from 4,541 to 4,650.

Despite Virginia Tech's enrollment numbers being up this year, the board said VT was an outlier.

"The enrollment issue is a national issue. It's an issue that every school is going to have to deal with, not just JMU. JMU is a popular school," Bill Wyatt, Director of Communications and University Spokesperson said.

The board discussed different ideas of how they can work to maintain the numbers they have rather than lowering their projections to meet the trend they anticipate.

The board plans to have deeper discussions about what exactly they will do to meet their goals.