DePaul has impressive enrollment year despite pandemic


Bianca Cseke | The DePaulia

DePaul University Lincoln Park campus.

DePaul released its annual enrollment summaries Tuesday, revealing an overall increase in enrollment and a slight diversification of the student body. 

In terms of overall enrollment, DePaul maintains the title of largest Catholic university in the country for the 23rd year in a row despite only 41 percent of freshmen and 32 percent of transfer students identifying as Catholic. 

Despite the immense challenges facing higher education due to the pandemic, DePaul welcomed a record-breaking freshman class. 

In addition to being the largest freshman class in school history, it also has the highest average GPA of a freshman class ever recorded at 3.75. Every college except for the College of Communication saw an increase in enrollment over last year, with nearly a quarter of freshmen enrolling in CDM, according to the report. 

Nearly a quarter of freshmen came from the city of Chicago, while 28 percent of out-of-state first-years came from California, Michigan and Minnesota.

DePaul also succeeded in diversifying the student body with just under half of the nearly 3,000 first-year students identifying as people of color. The university welcomed a record 9,371 students of color in 2020, ultimately comprising 43 percent of total enrollment. 

Notably, while DePaul seems to succeed in drawing students in, it struggles to hold on to them. 

According to the report, new undergraduate enrollment has increased 3 percent since 2016 while continuing undergraduate enrollment has decreased by 12 percent. The decline can largely be attributed to a loss in part-time continuing students whose enrollment declined by 42 percent, compared to 6 percent for full-time students, the report said.  

In his opening message, Soumitra Ghosh, the vice president of enrollment management, acknowledged DePaul’s student retention problem.

“This steady decline in the undergraduate student body tells us that we need to become more effective as a community in ensuring that a larger proportion of our continuing students persist and complete their college degree at DePaul,” Ghosh said.

In the past three years, the largest share of freshmen left DePaul after three quarters or one academic year. According to the report, 9 percent of the 2019 freshman class did not return the next fall. 

The decline in college enrollment across the country is due in large part to the rising prices of higher education and DePaul’s success may be due to its spending when it comes to financial aid. 

The report states that “DePaul awards its institutional aid in a manner consistent with mission-based principles of making a high-quality education available to promising students, including those who are otherwise unable to afford attending a selective, private institution.” 

As a result, 72 percent of enrolled students received more than $20,000 in financial aid from university sources in 2020, totalling more than $63 million in grants and scholarships to freshmen.

According to the report, DePaul “has intentionally responded to the increasing affordability challenges of parents and students.”