NACOGDOCHES, Texas — In addition to its 100th anniversary and affiliation with The University of Texas System this year, Stephen F. Austin State University is celebrating the release of fall 2023 enrollment data that shows the university registered its largest first-time undergraduate class in five years.

According to a census report taken Sept. 12, the fall 2023 first-time undergraduate class totals nearly 2,000 students and marks an increase of 4% from 2018 data. It’s the second year in a row SFA has witnessed its largest first-time undergraduate class since pre-COVID-19 years.

“SFA has much to celebrate this year, and seeing a return of first-time undergraduate students seeking out their bright futures in the pines is among them,” said SFA Interim President Gina Oglesbee. “University administrators continue to plan new and unique initiatives to help boost enrollment, and we’re excited for the assistance that affiliation with the UT System will provide in that respect.”

The university’s total fall headcount, which includes all undergraduate and graduate classifications, dropped slightly to 10,888 — a 4% overall decrease compared to fall 2022. However, the increase in first-time undergraduate students indicates a return to the classroom for one of the university’s primary student groups and a slowing of the enrollment fallout caused by COVID-19.

Membership in the UT System became official Sept. 1, and administrators are hopeful that the many benefits of that affiliation will serve to point enrollment trends in a positive direction. These include a large financial aid boost to SFA’s Purple Promise program through a $1 million endowment from the UT System. The additional funds will help SFA offer 100% tuition coverage to more than 1,200 students.

Additionally, affiliation with the UT System has given Lumberjacks access to Coursera, a major microcredential provider, which allows students to complete buildable credits toward niche certifications. Part of the Texas Credentials for the Future initiative, the UT System’s Coursera partnership is intended to complement traditional degree offerings and graduate students prepared to fill industry skill gaps.

Fall 2023 totals also show that SFA’s College of Sciences and Mathematics witnessed an increase in total headcount primarily due to having the largest overall undergraduate headcount increase with 163 more majors, or a 10% uptick. Also contributing were the significant growth in nursing and the new electrical and mechanical engineering bachelor’s degree programs.

New outreach efforts leveraging marketing initiatives as well as partnerships with high schools and community colleges resulted in more new Lumberjacks for the college this fall. Additional students are expected to engage in SFA nursing and engineering programs as these disciplines represent some of the most progressive and high-demand employment opportunities in the state.

For graduate headcount, three colleges reported slight increases or stable numbers, though graduate enrollment was down 7% overall. Despite this, master’s- and doctoral-level students in the James I. Perkins College of Education maintain the strongest major group reported, comprising nearly one-half of SFA’s total graduate population.

Other positive enrollment trends include a more than 3% increase in Hispanic student enrollment, as well as a consistent year-over-year increase of international student totals. With 139 students for fall 2023, international enrollment is the highest it’s been since 2010.

SFA administrators continue to discuss short- and long-term initiatives that would boost enrollment, including the development of a strategic enrollment plan to identify areas for enrollment growth and implement strategies. SFA will also begin piloting a direct admission program whereby potential best fit students are identified and offered conditional admission.

More in-depth institutional data, including figures from past years, can be found on the Office of Strategic Analytics and Institutional Research website at

Stephen F. Austin State University, the newest member of The University of Texas System, began a century ago as a teachers’ college in Texas’ oldest town, Nacogdoches. Today, it has grown into a regional institution comprising six colleges — business, education, fine arts, forestry and agriculture, liberal and applied arts, and sciences and mathematics. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, SFA enrolls approximately 11,000 students while providing the academic breadth of a state university with the personalized attention of a private school. The main campus encompasses 421 acres that include 36 academic facilities, nine residence halls, and 68 acres of recreational trails that wind through its six gardens. The university offers more than 80 bachelor’s degrees, more than 40 master’s degrees and four doctoral degrees covering more than 120 areas of study. Learn more at