UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – After an enrollment decline of nearly 20% over the last decade, the State University of New York system is seeing its campuses stabilize this year, with a dip of just 1.9% since 2021, according to data released on last Wednesday’s board of trustee meeting.

Although enrollment across the SUNY system is continuing a downward trend, the silver lining is that the declining speed has stabled, coming after an area of the global pandemic and population decline.  The university’s administration is planning to allocate new staffing and resources to address this nationwide issue for public universities.

This year, with a SUNY-wide enrollment percent change rate of -1.9%, including community colleges, increase by 0.8% and technology and smaller campuses increase with a rate of 4.1%, it is a little bit better compared to the national enrollment number declining rate.

College matters. Over a lifetime, earning a college degree could possibly add up to a million dollars more income. And that leaves more male over female students and people of lower income more susceptible to changes in college enrollment rate.

SUNY trustee Stanley S. Litow comments on the reasons behind this year’s decline. “For the first time, in US wide, we have seen a dip in high school graduation rate, so that’s something. The second thing like you said is that we have the population decline that’s the second thing. And then the third thing are that related to Covid. We have seen an uptick in employment compensation in fast food restaurants and that uptick has hurt students who might have been enrolled in a community college.”

SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah Stanley also added that the data reflects the different demographics that SUNY system are dealing with going along. “We’ve known that in the 90s we had a glut of 19-year-old going to the system. We knew that it is the 2000 hit that we are going to be facing some point in the future and this future has arrived that there is a very low birth rate at this point.”

Stanley announced Joel Wincowski as deputy to the chancellor for enrollment. “We are taking the enrollment rate into the chancellors so that is something new. That also brings about some of the allocations of resources in this system, especially human resources. We are asking people to make some changes in the work that they do to come and work on enrollment initiatives.”

Going forward, SUNY administration is not solely reflecting on what is laying on the surface.

“It’s not just about growth number of students. It is not just about percentage up and percentage down. It is what is the larger context. What is happening here? Have we been moving with the times? Is there something changing in the way that we educate people in the society? Is there something changing in the program that we offer? What is the world telling us what we need to do in order to get students into this area?”