CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s freshman class contains record numbers of students from underrepresented backgrounds and first-generation college students, and represents a 10-year high of Illinois residents.
Among the 10 largest freshman classes in the country, the newest Illini include 22.2 percent who come from underrepresented backgrounds and 22.1 percent who identify as first-generation students.
“We’re excited to welcome this new class to Illinois,” said Chancellor Robert Jones. “They are the most diverse class ever. They represent our largest number of first-generation college students ever. And, once again this year, we are the largest provider of undergraduate education to Illinois residents. These students are already making history here even before many of them have put away their campus maps. We can’t wait to see what they do in the next four years and beyond.”
Graphic by Julie McMahon
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A new high in applications yielded a record freshman enrollment of 7,609 students for the fall semester, topping the previous record of 7,593 in fall 2016. The total number of undergraduate students enrolled at the Urbana campus was 33,673, higher than the previous record of 33,624 in 2017. Similarly, total enrollment of 49,339 eclipsed last year’s previous record of 47,826.
Increases in graduate-level enrollment was a major factor in the campus’s overall growth of more than 1,500 students, including students enrolled in the iMBA program and the initial class of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine.
With 1,093 new freshman identifying as Hispanic or Latinx and 475 identifying as African-American, the University of Illinois continues to be one of the most diverse campuses in the Big Ten. The number of students from rural downstate areas increased 37.7 percent, with 87 out of 102 Illinois counties represented in the freshman class.
The percentage of incoming freshmen who reported a status of first-generation college students continues to increase, from 21.6 in 2016 to 21.9 in 2017 and a record 22.1 this year.
A total of 5,847 freshmen are classified as in-state students, up from last year’s figure of 5,507. Freshmen from other U.S. states decreased from 890 to 837. International students decreased to 925 in the freshman class, down from 1,116 a year ago; however, the number of countries represented increased from 31 to 36.
“We were pleasantly surprised by our enrollment of Illinois residents,” said Andy Borst, the admissions director. “We exceeded our target of 7,500 freshmen because significantly more Illinois residents are realizing the excellence and return on investment of an Illinois education.”
The Illinois residency rate increased from 73.3 percent to 76.8 percent, with the highest number of Illinois residents in the last 10 years. The yield rate for residents – the percentage of admitted students who choose to attend the university – increased from 40.5 percent to 41.8 percent.
“We are very pleased with the size, diversity and quality of our incoming freshman class,” said Kevin Pitts, the vice provost for undergraduate education. “We plan to maintain the size of our undergraduate population while continuing to push our competitive advantages and market position to enroll the best classes possible.
“We are working on some exciting new initiatives, such as the new Illinois Commitment program, that will help us to accomplish our future enrollment goals.”
Average ACT and SAT scores for the incoming freshmen were similar to last year, with ACT increasing from 28.5 to 28.9 and SAT decreasing from 1,390 to 1,342.
The three universities in the University of Illinois System annually release statistics based upon the enrollments on the 10th day of classes, which for the Urbana campus was Sept. 10.