VSU Reports Largest Enrollment Increase in a Decade, Despite National Trends of Declining Enrollment

Virginia State University also reports highest retention rate increase in twenty years

Despite national trends of declining university enrollments, Virginia State University is reporting the largest year-to-year increase in retention and enrollment in more than a decade.

In fall 2021, enrollment at VSU grew by 280 for a total of 4300 students. This is an increase of nearly 7 percent over the fall 2020 semester. The increase is also the single largest year-to-year increase in enrollment at VSU in more than a decade.  In addition, VSU is reporting an impressive 76 percent retention rate. Retention rate is the percentage of a school's first-time, first-year undergraduate students who continue at that school the next year. This is the highest retention rate at VSU in more than twenty years

"When students decide to continue their education at Virginia State University, it is a testament to the idea that greater happens here,” said Dr. Donald E. Palm, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs. "Retention is just one of the factors that we examine to evaluate how students are enjoying their experience and how well our faculty, staff, and administration are doing at ensuring our students’ academic success. While we appreciate this accomplishment, we will continue to be intentional in implementing more programs and strategies to ensure that our students enjoy a positive and transformative academic experience at VSU.”

The VSU increase is a positive development considering enrollment nationwide has been on a downward trajectory over the last decade and especially so during the pandemic. According to US News and World Report, last spring, college attendance fell by more than 600,000 students across the country, the steepest drop in a decade. 

“We are encouraged to see this increase in retention and enrollment at VSU.  Despite the challenges dealing with COVID-19 over the last year, it’s clear that students still see the value in education and see VSU as a GREATER option for them,” says VSU President Makola M. Abdullah, Ph.D. “Our faculty and staff are doing their part to make sure we are offering what our students need, in a safe environment and at a great value.”

VSU is ranked by Washington Monthly Magazine in the top 15% of Bang-for-your-Buck institutions in the Southeast Region of the United States. The list was determined by the institution’s ability to afford access to marketable degrees for non-wealthy students.   

In addition, Virginia State University is ranked among the best universities in the country, according to numerous national educational reports.   According to U.S. News and World Report, VSU places in the top 30 in the category of Best Overall HBCUs for 2022.  The annual list examines factors such as retention, alumni giving, faculty resources, graduate indebtedness, and student excellence. Virginia State University is also ranked in the top 30% in the “Performers on Social Mobility” list. This listing examines how well the university graduates students typically from low-income households within a 6-year time frame.