By Tim Leeds
Montana State University-Northern is looking to enroll about as many students next fall as last fall despite Montana University System projections that student population will decline by 195 systemwide.
"It's still really early in the trend lines. If I were to call it, I'd probably call it even," said Steve Jamruszka, registrar at Northern.
Jamruzka said right now the number of returning students and new students looks fairly steady. He said the number of preregistered students is slightly up from this time last year.
That number could change, either higher or lower, by the time for final drops and additions during the fall semester.
Jamruszka said Northern generally had been experiencing a decline in enrollment for the last four years. He said there was a slight decline for last fall compared to fall semester 1999.
Rod Sundsted of the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education said the projected decline for the system comes from an analysis of the enrollment trends of the last few years. He said the major decline will probably be in nonresident students, while enrollment of resident students has been increasing.
Sundsted said the projections for total enrollment decline are mainly from trends at Northern and Montana Tech in Butte. He said most of the other schools are fairly stable in enrollment, with slight decreases or increases, and a projected increase at the University of Montana in Missoula of 70 to 100 students. Projected decline at Northern was 40 students.
Jamruszka said the stabilization he expects in Northern's enrollment probably comes from two main factors, demographics and consumerism.
He said he thinks the population decline in the area Northern serves has stabilized, and some of the program offerings at Northern, such as the diesel and nursing programs, are experiencing enrollment increases.