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Idaho State Board of Education releases annual higher education report

Overall college enrollment in Idaho is up 2% from fall 2018 to fall 2022. However, the number of in-state students has dropped 12% during that timeframe.

BOISE, Idaho — More out-of-state students are eyeing Idaho as a possible place to enroll in college, according to a new report from the Idaho State Board of Education.

Every year, the state board releases a fact book with data on higher education. It includes statistics about enrollment trends, graduation rates and budget information.  

For the second-straight year, overall enrollment numbers at Idaho's higher education institutions has trended upward. 

The number of high school students taking dual-credit - allowing them to earn college credit - has increased about 20% since 2018.

"I think it's a result of the legislature investing into the Advanced Opportunities program," Chief Research Officer at the Idaho State Board of Education, Dr. Cathleen McHugh said. 

Since 2017, each Idaho public school student in grades 7-12 has been given access to $4,125 in Advances Opportunities, such as dual credit. 

Dr. McHugh said those students are also getting a good value once they step on a college campus.

"So, Idaho, both the four-year and the two-year institutions have worked really hard to keep tuition and fees low," McHugh said. "The board has not approved a tuition and fee increase in three years."

Idaho students pay about 19% less in tuition than out-of-state students at Idaho universities. 

"There's a high probability that after they complete their degree, they'll get a job in Idaho, and they're more likely to earn more," McHugh said.

Overall college enrollment in Idaho is up 2% from fall 2018 to fall 2022.

However, the number of in-state students has dropped 12% during that timeframe. While the number of out-of-state students enrolling in Idaho universities jumped 21%.

The state board said they heard many students who wanted an in-person college experience during COVID, which could be a reason for the increase in out-of-state students. 

"During COVID, I would guess it was because Idaho institutions worked really hard to stay open," McHugh said. "So, while out-of-state institutions may have gone practically virtual, the Idaho institutions said, 'we're going to stay open, we're going to figure out how to do this,' and they got it done."

The state board measures college enrollment at the three-year mark, because many students choose to do something between high school graduation and college - such as a gap year or Church mission. 

While not enough time has passed to get a full picture of how the pandemic may have affected enrollment rates, the state board says there could be some hangover from COVID. The number of students immediately enrolling in postsecondary education after high school has decreased since 2019. 

"We don't have our three-year measure that would incorporate all of COVID yet. So, we don't know how that would impact the three-year college going rate yet. We have an idea of how it's impacted the fall immediate," McHugh said. "But what we're hoping is that students who didn't go on in the fall immediate choose to return within that three year period."

The Idaho State Board of Education has several board initiatives to encourage students to pursue postsecondary education. Including a direct admissions program and 'Apply Idaho'.

A full copy of the Idaho State Board of Education's 2022 fact book can be seen here

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