There is a positive outlook among administrators at Stephen F. Austin State University, as fall 2020 enrollment numbers were much better than many educational forecasts had predicted, based on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fall enrollment totaled 12,620 students, a decrease of 349 students, or 2.7%. However, there was a 10.7% increase in SFA’s graduate enrollment, from 1,475 students in fall 2019 to 1,633 students in fall 2020.
“Among the graduate students, there was a 36.5% increase in the number of new graduate students, so that is especially encouraging,” said Erma Brecht, executive director of enrollment management. “SFA’s commitment to flexible course and program offerings allowed graduate students to select options that best fit their needs, such as 16-week or 8-week terms and face-to-face, online, Zoom or a hybrid delivery.”
Within undergraduate enrollment, administrators believe the decrease in freshman students, from 3,643 in fall 2019 to 3,109, is due to pandemic-related uncertainty. Enrollment of junior-level students increased 2.1%, from 2,639 in 2019 to 2,694; there was a 3.8% increase among seniors, from 2,895 to 3,005.
Each of the six colleges experienced growth in their graduate-student headcount, with the Perkins College of Education enrolling 874 students, an 8.2% increase since fall 2019, and the College of Liberal and Applied Arts enrolling 287 students, a 22.1% increase. There are 143 graduate students in the Rusche College of Business, 79 in the College of Fine Arts, 91 in the Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, and 159 in Sciences and Mathematics.
SFA administrators were especially pleased with retention rates, which indicate a potential 7% increase, from 70% in fall 2019 to 77% this fall.
“We are pleased to see our students return to continue their educational goals at a higher rate,” Brecht said.

Brecht added that SFA faculty, staff and administrators understood this fall was going to look and feel different than normal.
“Faculty and staff prepared course offerings in multiple modalities to meet students' needs and provided student services virtually,” she said. “We thank them for their dedication, and we also thank our students and their families for their commitment to SFA.”
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