ECU 2024 enrollment is down as incentives grow

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – East Carolina University’s total enrollment for Spring 2024 is 24,738 as of the Jan. 22, Census Day calculations. This is down from the previous spring semester which university leaders say they blame on fewer high school students graduating.

ECU saw increases in Spring semester first-time, first-year students. This past winter, ECU saw 2,090 graduates on Dec. 15th, 2023.

This uptick may likely be the case of more lenient requirements when it comes to applying, not just at ECU but throughout the UNC system.

When the pandemic hit and students could not physically go to test-taking sites to take their SAT and ACT scores, colleges and universities were more inclined to look at other parts of students’ portfolios, such as GPA and what extracurricular activities they were engaged in. Today, universities such as ECU still don’t require the tests.

“We don’t use it in the decision-making process unless a student asks us to so students don’t have to report those. That’s under discussion right now within the UNC system, there aren’t plans to change anything until the early fall of 2025,” ECU Learner operations associate provost, Dr. Allen Guidry said.

At ECU, the weighted GPA requirement to apply is a 2.5 and any bonuses a student might have such as a higher GPA, an impressive background of extracurriculars, or submitting those test scores regardless of them not being a requirement could land them in ECU’s honor college. This helps level the playing field for students who aren’t the best test-takers to still attend college and for those who are to have more incentives.

ECU has rebounded with 4% growth in incoming freshmen in fall 2023.

Fall 2019 – 28, 651

Fall 2020 – 28,798

Fall 2021 – 28, 021

Fall 2022 – 27, 151

Fall 2023 – 26, 785

According to Director of Media Relations and Reputation Management, Jamie Smith, nationally in Fall 2026 there are projected to be fewer graduating high school students each year through 2031. ECU is being intentional in attracting a broader range of learners.

ECU will be welcoming some new programs such as cyber security and criminal justice as early as this Spring. These programs, among others, will be targeted towards adult and military learners, however, the school does encourage those who are interested to apply.