Enrollment at Missouri Southern saw a decline from Fall 2018, according to data compiled by the university’s office of Institutional Effectiveness.

“While we anticipated around a 5-percent decline, we have experienced around a 6.7-percent decline compared to last year,” said Michael Sanders, MSSU’s dean of Admissions.

While overall headcount for this year stands at 5,604 students – down from 6,006 in 2018 – there numbers indicated a number of positive developments, including student retention numbers.

“We moved the needle from 61 percent (from 2017-18) to 65 percent (2018-19) of our first-time, full-time bachelor’s degree-seeking students,” said Dr. Josie Welsh, MSSU’s director of Institutional Effectiveness. “In other words, our fall-to-fall retention rate increased by 4 percent.”

This year’s freshman and transfer classes saw a 6 percent increase from the university’s Lion Pride initiative, which offers in-state tuition rates to students from Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee as well as Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands.

This year’s freshman class also yielded one of the highest GPA’s (3.44) the university has seen the past five years.

While Missouri Southern continues to be one of the most affordable institutions in the state, as well as in the Four State region, it continues to provide financial assistance to students.

“We want to remove financial barriers for students who want to come to MSSU,” said Sanders. “One way we’re doing so is providing an application fee waiver to those who have or will graduate from Joplin, Carl Junction, Webb City, Carthage and Neosho high schools, or Crowder College. They can receive that waiver by simply applying through the university’s website.”