Record spring enrollment at WSU

Washington State University officials Tuesday reported a record spring semester enrollment of 24,651 students at its four campuses.

The official spring figures, based on enrollments on the 10th day of the semester, show a systemwide increase of 311 students, or 1.3 percent, from the previous spring.

In the Tri-Cities, enrollment at the branch campus in Richland is 1,511 -- three more than in spring 2010.

Jaime Contreras, student affairs director for WSU Tri-Cities, said campus officials are pleased to have stable enrollment numbers in the wake of a still-sluggish economy and rising tuition costs.

"Education is important, but sometimes people have to make the choice of just feeding the family and paying the rent," he said. "We have done a good job with retention."

WSU Tri-Cities officials also are glad to see a rising number of minority students, keeping the campus on track to obtain a "Hispanic Serving Institution" designation in Fall 2012 or Spring 2013, Contreras said.

Minority students accounted for 21.4 percent of WSU Tri-Cities' student body, up from 17.8 percent last spring.

"We're still growing," he said of the minority enrollment.

The university's fastest-growing campus was WSU Vancouver. The regional campus serving Southwest Washington enrolled 3,068 students -- an increase of 176 students, or 6.1 percent from the previous spring.

The Pullman and Spokane campuses, which are considered one campus for state enrollment reporting purposes, showed an overall increase of 0.7 percent, or 132 students, over spring 2010. Pullman is reporting 18,805 students and Spokane is showing 1,267 students enrolled for spring.

Enrollment as measured by full-time equivalent students, or an average based on the number of credit hours for which students have registered, showed a similar rate of increase universitywide, rising to 23,526, up 1.3 percent from last spring.

The number of graduate students, who are included in the overall enrollment numbers, is up by 156 from last spring.

"WSU continues to meet the educational needs of a broad base of students, despite the significant budgetary challenges facing our state," said John Fraire, vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment at WSU. "The fact that, for the seventh year in a row, 84 percent of our undergraduate enrollment continues to be students from Washington state shows there is clearly a strong and consistent demand for higher education, and we are doing our best to continue to deliver the high-quality educational programs to meet that demand."

Minority students made up 18.4 percent of students at the Pullman and Spokane campuses enrolled in spring 2011 compared with 16.4 percent last spring.

WSU Vancouver enrolled 18.1 percent minority students compared with 15 percent last spring.

w Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; mdupler@tricityherald.com