NACOGDOCHES, Texas — While Stephen F. Austin State University is reporting a fall enrollment of 12,614 students, a 1-percent decrease from fall 2016, there are bright spots to be found in the enrollment numbers.

The highest first-time undergraduate retention rate for fall 2017 is 71.6 percent, representing a 4.3-percent increase during the past five years.

SFA has recorded a five-year increase in the number of first-time undergraduates of 6.6 percent. In 2013, there were 2,016 SFA students who were first-time undergraduates; in 2017, there are 2,150 first-time undergraduates.

“This upward trend is a reflection of the new initiatives we have implemented to create meaningful and sustained enrollment growth,” said Dr. Steve Bullard, SFA provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We are setting tuition and fees earlier so that we can offer financial aid packages sooner, and we’ve increased the amount of scholarship dollars that are available. We created new programs, including an online Bachelor of Business Administration and programs in Houston and The Woodlands. All of these will contribute to future growth in enrollment.”

SFA also awarded more degrees in 2017 than in 2016, when 2,703 degrees were distributed. During the 2017 academic year, the university awarded 2,767 degrees, a 2.4-percent increase over the prior year.

The number of students in each of SFA’s six colleges is:

  • Rusche College of Business, 1,848, a 3.4-percent increase from 1,787 in fall 2016;
  • James I. Perkins College of Education, 3,968, a 2.6-percent decrease from 4,076;
  • College of Fine Arts, 920, a .1-percent increase from 919;
  • Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, 800, a 4.2-percent increase from 768;
  • College of Liberal and Applied Arts, 2,672, a decrease of 1.9 percent from 2,724; and
  • College of Sciences and Mathematics, 2,406, down 2.5 percent from 2,468.

While SFA recorded increased graduate enrollment in half of its colleges for fall 2017, overall enrollment in SFA’s Graduate School was down 3.3 percent.

“As market and student demands change, we respond by developing new graduate programs and by offering existing degrees in new ways,” said Dr. Richard Berry, Graduate School dean. “Other such offerings are in the works now and will launch in the coming year. These changes in program delivery are a part of the university’s initiative to ‘meet our students where they are.’”

Among the graduate programs offered by the university are a Master of Social Work in a face-to-face format in The Woodlands and an online Master of Public Administration. This fall, the university also began offering a Master of Science in Nursing with a nurse practitioner focus online. In the coming year, SFA will implement a Master of Science in cybersecurity.

In the College of Sciences and Mathematics, graduate enrollment increased by 13.2 percent with a total of 137 graduate students enrolled. Additionally, graduate enrollment grew in the Rusche College of Business from 128 to 134, a 4.7-percent increase from fall 2016. Also, graduate enrollment in the College of Fine Arts grew from 78 to 82 students, a 5.1-percent increase. Decreases were reported in the College of Education, from 989 to 965; Forestry and Agriculture, from 107 to 91; and Liberal and Applied Arts, from 261 to 220.