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Projected First-Year College Enrollment Down In Pennsylvania

Keith Srakocic

Projected first-year enrollment is down at Pennsylvania's 14 state universities amid the coronavirus pandemic and other factors.

According to numbers released Thursday by the state's higher education system, 17,277 students paid deposits this week compared to 17,583 during this period last year. That's a decline of nearly 2%.

However, enrollment numbers vary. Cheyney University saw a 51% increase in first-year students making deposits at the historically black school compared to Bloomsburg University, which experienced the deepest decline with 19% fewer first-year students enrolling.

"A lot of families are waiting to make a decision, and understandably so,” university system spokesman Dave Pidgeon told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “They are facing a lot of uncertainty.”

Officials cited the coronavirus pandemic as one reason for the lower numbers, but they also said there was a continuing decline in high school graduates.

Completed applications were down 6% this year.

Pidgeon could not say how many of the system's 96,000 students planned to return.

The system's chancellor, Daniel Greenstein, has said the universities intend to open for in-person classes this fall, but the openings would vary.

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