University News

Fall 2014 Int'l Enrollment Increases; Freshman Retention Increases

September 11, 2014

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL -- According to Western Illinois University's Office of Institutional Research and Planning, the freshmen retention rate has risen from 63.3 for Fall 2013 to 72 percent for Fall 2014.

To recognize its retention efforts, Western was recently awarded the 2014 Lee Noel-Randi Levitz Retention Excellence Award. The Building Connections mentor program, which pairs first-year students with a faculty, staff or administrator, and a First Year Experience course were credited with having a significant, positive effect on first-year student success.

In addition to increased retention, Fall 2014 international student enrollment has increased by 141 for a total of 511 international students attending WIU (370, Fall 2013). Fifty-seven countries are represented at WIU.

"The University's Office of Undergraduate Admissions and the staff within graduate programs and international studies have worked tirelessly to recruit students. While we have much more work to do in regard to spreading the message about Western Illinois University, we are moving in the right direction," said WIU President Jack Thomas. "I am confident that as Western's reputation as an outstanding institution continues to grow, our enrollment will also increase."

While the freshman class is slightly smaller than last year's incoming class, the number of new WIU students ranking in the top 2 percent in the nation on the ACT continues to increase and the percentage of students ranking in the top 25 percent of their class also continues to go up. Earlier this year, Western increased admissions standards for students applying for the Fall 2014 semester. The average ACT score (20.9) for incoming freshmen at Western continues to exceed the state average, and the average grade point average of incoming students increased to 3.15 (3.11, Fall 2013).
"We are admitting more students who have the best chance to succeed in college," Admissions Director Andy Borst said. "Not only are we seeing an increase in the number of applications from qualified students, but we are also seeing more of these students enroll at WIU."

According to Borst, to counter competition from out-of-state schools, as well as those within Illinois, vying for an increasingly smaller pool of graduating seniors, Western has launched new, more aggressive recruitment efforts beginning this fall. Admissions staff will be visiting an additional 500 high schools and community colleges throughout the state and in Missouri, and Western recently opened a new admissions center to serve the St. Louis Metro region. In addition, the University has enhanced its scholarship program. Upon acceptance to Western, students receive an initial merit-based offer ranging from $8,000 to $40,000. High school seniors who apply to the Macomb or Moline campuses may receive up to a full scholarship, depending on their ACT/SAT scores and cumulative high school GPAs. The program is intended to ensure that students with at least a 20 ACT and a 3.0 GPA receive sufficient financial aid from all sources to attend Western.

The Western Commitment Scholarship program has increased the number of high-ability students attending the University by 20 percent from 2009 to 2013, and WIU will increase its funding of the automatic scholarship program by approximately 150 percent for the incoming class of 2015, Borst added.

Total enrollment for Fall 2014 is 11,458, down 2.1 percent (249 students) from Fall 2013. New freshmen enrollment is 1,605, down 47 students from Fall 2013. Fall 2014 enrollment at the Western-Macomb campus is 9,935 compared to 10,205 last fall. The number of new transfer students totals 1,213 (1,243, Fall 2013), while new graduate student enrollment is 571, compared to 573 in 2013. WIU-Quad Cities enrollment has increased by 21 students, to 1,523.

For more enrollment information, visit the Office of Institutional Research at

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Office of University Relations