Published: Sept. 9, 2022

CU Boulder’s preliminary fall 2022 enrollment numbers show modest growth from fall 2021 but are coming in slightly lower than was projected in June, and the university is expecting lower-than-projected revenue increases.

The information, presented Sept. 9 to the University of Colorado Board of Regents, is based on preliminary student enrollment data that won’t be finalized until after the campus’s fall census later this month.

The preliminary data show overall enrollment at CU Boulder for fall 2022 is up about 0.8% from last fall for a total of 36,170 students. The campus plans to grow enrollment by approximately 0.5% annually over the next five years, largely through anticipated increased retention rates.

New first-year enrollment is currently projected to rebound to pre-pandemic levels at 7,100 students, an increase of 315 students from fall 2021.

Meanwhile, decreases are anticipated among transfer students, continuing undergraduate students and resident graduate students. More specific enrollment figures are available online.

Chancellor Philip DiStefano said the drop in continuing undergraduate students is partly explained by increased graduation rates. CU Boulder’s most recent six-year graduation rate was 74% for full-time first-year students who entered in 2015. First-year to second-year retention is projected to reach an all-time high this year, he added.

The budget impact based on these preliminary enrollment estimates is $7.8 million less than what was budgeted in June―less than 1% of the total campus budget. Budget impacts, including any necessary balancing measures, will be finalized following the fall census later this month.

Faculty and staff retention

The regents also received an update on the third pillar of the CU system strategic plan, including the introduction of a new metric measuring the retention of faculty and staff members who are Hispanic, Black or American Indian.

CU Chief Financial Officer Chad Marturano said the system has traditionally measured the diversity of new students and new faculty and staff hires, but those figures didn’t capture the full scope of the campuses’ efforts to reflect the diversity of the state.

At CU Boulder, the university retained 90% of Hispanic, Black or American Indian faculty and 82% of staff members in fiscal year 2021-22, compared with 87% of overall faculty and 84% of overall staff.

As of fall 2021, about 7% of faculty and 15% of staff at CU Boulder are Hispanic, Black, or American Indian. In the strategic plan, the university has defined an increase in faculty and staff from these populations as a key element.

Between now and February 2023, each campus will establish goals and action steps to improve the retention of underrepresented employees.

DiStefano said CU Boulder has not been immune from the “great resignation,” a nationwide trend of employee turnover. Keeping compensation a priority, particularly for frontline employees, is also critical to retaining staff members, he added.

10-year state revenue and expenditure forecast

The meeting also included discussion of Colorado’s 10-year state revenue and expenditure forecast.

According to the forecast, Medicaid is expected to become the state’s largest expenditure, overtaking K-12 spending around 2027, Marturano said. 

Trends show Colorado’s K-12 student population will plateau in the next 10 years, while costs for Medicaid, especially among older Coloradans, are expected to increase.

The forecast also described how inflation has impacted TABOR refunds in Colorado.

Other business

The board also: 

  • Approved sabbaticals for 23 CU Boulder faculty members.

  • Gave approval for CU Boulder to fund the retirement of the bonds for four capital construction projects that had previously been funded by the student capital construction fee that the campus eliminated earlier this year.

  • Approved $3.8 million in additional spending authority for phase two of the Fleming Building renovation. The $13.3 million construction project will retire more than $6 million in deferred maintenance in addition to key programmatic upgrades that support the School of Education’s move to the building.

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for Nov. 3-4 at UCCS.