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Northwest's first-year students participated in the March to the Tower Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday, Northwest began its fall semester with an enrollment of 6,841. (Photo by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

Northwest's first-year students participated in the March to the Tower Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday, Northwest began its fall semester with an enrollment of 6,841. (Photo by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

Aug. 22, 2019

Northwest opening day enrollment up 2 percent, retention remains high

Northwest Missouri State University is beginning its 2019-20 academic year this week with a 2 percent increase in its total enrollment, in addition to maintaining its high retention rate.

Northwest entered its first day of classes Wednesday with a total headcount of 6,841 students while 76 percent of its 2018 freshman class returned to the University for a second year. The retention rate is the second-highest in the institution’s history after Northwest secured a record 78 percent retention rate last fall.

Northwest’s freshman headcount is 1,349, which also represents a 2 percent increase from last fall. Forty-seven percent of the class are identified as first-generation students, up from 42 percent in fall 2018.  

All enrollment numbers are preliminary until Northwest’s official census occurs Sept. 18. The University projects its total enrollment for the fall to exceed 7,000 as students continue to enroll and those enrolled in dual credit programs are counted.

“High quality, great value and affordable costs – that’s what Northwest is all about, and our focus on student success is our calling card,” Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski said. “We are nationally recognized for our diligence in helping students succeed, and these strong enrollment numbers indicate students, parents and others recognize Northwest as a leader in a very competitive and crowded marketplace.”

Illustrating Northwest’s quality, the University boasts a graduation rate in the 89th percentile of its national peer group. In addition, 97 percent of Northwest bachelor’s degree earners and 99 percent of master’s degree earners secure employment or continue their education within six months of graduation, according to the most recent data. Zippia, a career website, names Northwest the best college in Missouri for getting a job.

Northwest also places a high emphasis on profession-based learning to help graduates get a jumpstart on their careers. Students have opportunities to build their résumés with experiences on campus in nearly every area of study, including the Horace Mann Laboratory SchoolNational Public Radio affiliate KXCV, the R.T. Wright Farm, Mozingo Outdoor Education Recreation Area or Knacktive, a student-driven integrated digital marketing communications agency.

In relation to value, Northwest includes textbooks and a laptop in its tuition costs, which is among the lowest in the nation, saving students an estimated $7,400 over four years. Northwest also offers 1,200 student employment positions, allowing students to earn money while building professional skills through the internationally benchmarked program. 

Eighty-six percent of first-time freshmen receive some form of financial aid, which includes the Northwest’s innovative Bearcat Advantage and American Dream Grant programs. The University also offers low-cost housing, and it implemented a revised rate structure for graduate students that is based on market demand and program offerings rather than a traditional model based on residency.

Furthermore, to help students graduate in four years or less and accrue less debt, Northwest’s “Complete 30” initiative encourages students to take a personalized approach to meeting their academic goals and complete 30 credit hours during the course of an academic year. Additionally, Northwest reduced the number of credits needed to earn a bachelor’s degree from 124 to 120.

Other projected enrollment increases by the University include online enrollment (up 25 percent), graduate enrollment (up 9 percent) and undergraduate enrollment (up 1 percent).

Northwest’s freshman class includes 66 percent of students from within the state, while 13 percent come from Nebraska, 12 percent are from Iowa and 5 percent are from Kansas; the class represents 17 states and 16 countries.

Additionally, Northwest reports that 17 percent of the freshman class comes from underrepresented domestic populations, an increase of 5 percent since last fall, while 2 percent are international students, a 17 percent increase from last year.

Northwest’s first-time freshman also are academically strong, entering this fall with an average ACT score of 22, which exceeds state and national averages, and an average high school grade-point average of 3.33.

Northwest attributes its enrollment growth to the ongoing work of its cross-disciplinary recruiting team, enhanced communication with prospective students, and partnerships with marketing and online education vendors to provide services and support aimed at increasing enrollment.

“We are proud of the work of so many in addressing enrollment, yet at the same time, the strength of our academic programs, student success initiatives and culture are the drivers for our gains,” Jasinski said. “We celebrate our ongoing strong retention rates, and will continue focusing on the completion agenda and keeping the end in mind.”

For more information about Northwest and its performance, visit


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215