Published: Sept. 14, 2018

CU Boulder has made several significant changes to improve affordability over the last several years and is seeing another year of strong interest in the university by prospective students.

​​ By the numbers

Total students, undergraduate and graduate
34,595 | 4.1 percent increase from fall 2017

Incoming freshmen
6,721 | 2.3 percent increase from fall 2017

Underrepresented (racial/ethnic minority) undergraduate students
7,350 | 7.9 percent increase from fall 2017

Graduate students
5,749 | about a 3 percent increase from fall 2017

Total international students, undergraduate and graduate
Almost 3,100 | 1 percent increase from fall 2017

CU Boulder Senior Vice Chancellor and CFO Kelly Fox shared preliminary enrollment data with the CU Board of Regents during the board’s regular meeting on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. Fox credited record applications and enrollment numbers in part to the campus's efforts to make achieving a college degree more affordable, especially for residents.

Affordability measures include: elimination of all course and program fees; a four-year lock on tuition for entering undergraduate students; automatic scholarships for academically qualified Colorado resident students; scholarships for academically qualified transfer students; and scholarships and grants for low-income students.

“The University of Colorado Boulder has been and is committed to making an education here one of the best values in the state,” said CU Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano.

Campus officials told the board it’s not enough.

“We face increasing competition from out-of-state institutions that can provide large scholarship and merit packages,” Fox said. “We need to provide additional need-based and merit scholarships to ensure Colorado students stay in Colorado to benefit our economy.”

Fox and the board discussed the importance of working with other Colorado  higher education institutions and the state legislature to increase need-based and merit scholarships aimed at retaining Colorado students.

This year, CU Boulder has 3,401 Esteemed Scholars, 78 Boettcher Scholars, 68 Arts & Humanities Scholars and 298 Transfer Excellence Scholars. All students who apply to CU Boulder by the application deadline are automatically considered for these scholarships.

Under the CU Promise program, resident students from low-income families receive grants to help pay for the student share of tuition and an estimated work-study award to help pay for other educational expenses. This fall, more than 1,600 students will benefit from the program.

The university has also boosted its efforts to draw in-state students through precollegiate programs and enhanced support programs for transfer students, and has made CU Boulder more affordable by eliminating course fees. To accommodate CU Boulder’s need for more undergraduate housing, the university will cut the ribbon on the new 700-bed Williams Village East residence hall in August 2019.

Fox said these efforts around affordability and scholarships have helped CU Boulder also  achieve its most diverse and largest incoming freshman class for fall 2018—and this year’s class of students from Colorado and around the globe is also one of the most highly academically qualified, according to preliminary enrollment data presented to the board.

More than any other year in CU Boulder history, this year’s incoming freshman class is more diverse, with underrepresented ethnic and racial minority students totaling 1,791—a 2.4 percent increase over the previous year. Fox noted the total number of racial and ethnically diverse minority undergraduates has increased about 7.9 percent over last year. CU Boulder has also seen an increase in transfer and online students.

Fox also informed the board fewer freshman international students are enrolling at CU Boulder. Overall, international enrollment fell to 3,096 this fall, a nearly 1 percent drop from last year.

“In spite of these trends, we will continue to let international students know CU Boulder and the surrounding community welcomes and values them,” the chancellor said.