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UGA enrollment bounces back, surpasses 40,000 for first time

As universities struggle to retain students, the University of Georgia is tallying is its highest enrollment yet.

ATHENS, Ga. — As college enrollment numbers take a hit during the coronavirus pandemic, the University of Georgia is bouncing back and chalking in its largest-ever student body.

University officials said 40,118 students enrolled for the Fall 2021 semester. That number includes undergraduate, graduate and professional students.

Fall 2021 is the first time enrollment for UGA surpassed 40,000, according to enrollment data. 

In August, the university welcomed 5,800 freshmen, according to UGA officials. Another 10,000 new students also started an academic journey during the fall semester.

In an effort to maintain its new 95% retention rate, UGA has also increased need-based scholarships. For the 2020-21 academic year, its financial aid office disbursed $382.9 million in federal, state, institutional and other funds, a news release said. 

UGA has also eliminated class fees for labs and course materials. 

“I am proud of the University of Georgia’s rapid improvement in degree completion rates and our record enrollment,” said school President Jere W. Morehead in a news release. “We are helping to secure the future of our state and nation by equipping more students than ever with the education and experience they need to become tomorrow’s leaders.”

A key element to this growth is the university's strategic use of resources for transfer students. 

UGA recently expanded its transfer program to create more opportunities for undergraduate students to continue their education at UGA, including giving some wait-listed students a chance to reapply for admission a semester sooner than the typical transfer route. 

The university has also further invested in its transfer program by hiring an advisor to help these new students, according to a news release. UGA said after these efforts they have seen a 10% growth in transfer students in the last year.

UGA said it also committed to expanding graduate education which resulted in growth in programs at its vet school, public health college, agriculture and environmental sciences college and family and consumer science discipline.

Additionally, international graduate enrollment increased by 10.5%, UGA data shows.

“At both the undergraduate and graduate levels, students are increasingly choosing to pursue their academic goals at the University of Georgia,” S. Jack Hu, the university’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost said in a news release. “The extraordinary levels of success they achieve reflects their talent and the outstanding learning experiences our faculty and programs provide.”