Published: Sept. 8, 2023

CU Boulder’s preliminary student enrollment estimate for this fall shows an increase of 658 students, or about 1.8% growth, over fall 2022.

The increase on the Boulder campus comes primarily from higher-than-anticipated enrollment of undergraduate students from Colorado, as well as improved retention rates among undergraduates.

The growth also stems from a 5.6% increase in transfer students—an increase of 79 students—and steady enrollment of graduate students compared to last fall. Preliminary enrollment at Boulder currently stands at 36,780 students.

The data was presented this week at the CU Board of Regents meeting, held Thursday and Friday at CU Denver. While totals will not be finalized until the campus census later this month, the preliminary estimates show that CU Boulder remains a highly attractive option for college-bound students and offers an optimistic budget outlook for the academic year.

“The increase in enrollment shows our commitment to educating Coloradans and retaining our current students, which has been a campus priority,” said CU Boulder Chief Operating Officer Patrick O’Rourke.

O’Rourke noted that the university has been able to accommodate incoming students’ on-campus housing needs.

CU system Chief Financial Officer Chad Marturano noted that a 1% undergraduate enrollment increase at CU Boulder equates to about $7.2 million in tuition revenue. Additional revenue from enrollment will be distributed through the campus budget model.

Online enrollment and programs

Regents also received updates on online course enrollment, which remains higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic but has fallen from that peak.

Systemwide in 2022-23, about 26% of students were enrolled exclusively in online courses, while 74% chose multimodal education, with a mix of in-person and online courses. The CU system delivered about 406,700 credit hours online last year, down from the more than one million credit hours delivered online in 2020-21 when the pandemic hit.

Fall and spring enrollment remains a mix of in-person and online, while more than half of summer course enrollment is online across the system, Marturano said.

“Students are voting with their feet. They’re enrolling in online programs, and we’re meeting them where their demand is,” Marturano said.

Regents met in breakout groups to delve into the current status and future goals for online programs with campus leadership, which included Chancellor Phil DiStefano; Robert McDonald, dean of University Libraries and senior vice provost of online education; and Ann Schmiesing, vice chancellor for academic resource management from CU Boulder.

Update on SCOTUS affirmative action decision

The regents also heard an update on the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to ban the consideration of race in university admissions nationwide. The CU system recently provided guidance to the four campuses on the ruling.

System leadership noted the ruling will not have a substantial impact on CU admission practices, which have moved beyond race-based admissions practices, and that CU will continue to engage in efforts to boost diversity, equity and inclusion on all four campuses.

“We certainly understand the importance of celebrating the diverse students and programs offered at the University of Colorado,” said CU system Vice President for Communication Jeff Howard.

Other business

The regents also approved:

  • A contract extension for CU Boulder Athletic Director Rick George, which extends his contract by one year (through June 2027) and increases his base salary.
  • The conveyance of an 88-square-foot property at 30th Street and Colorado Avenue to the city of Boulder to allow the city to complete its 30th Street Corridor Multimodal Improvement Project.
  • Two new faculty tenure awards at CU Boulder.
  • A new bachelor’s degree in middle and high school teaching from CU Boulder.
  • Updates to several Board of Regents laws and policies, including revisions to Regent Policy 10.A related to diversity and non-discrimination policies, which had not been updated since the 1970s. They also approved changes to regent policy on the timing of elections for chair and vice chair and committee assignments, moving those actions to the first meeting after the start of the calendar year, among other policy changes.
  • A resolution of appreciation for UCCS Chancellor Venkat Reddy, who announced in May that he would step down from his role as chancellor effective July 2023. Reddy now serves as special advisor to CU President Todd Saliman and plans to return to the UCCS faculty in fall 2024.

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for Nov. 7–8 at UCCS.