EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa. — Universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education saw their biggest decline in enrollment in more than a decade.
A school in our area was hit the hardest.
Data from a new report published in the Philadelphia Inquirer shows enrollment at East Stroudsburg University is down 700 students. The university saw the largest percentage loss of any state-run school this year, down 12%.
Avery Fohring is a freshman swimmer who chose ESU for its exercise science program. She believes the pandemic has kept some students away.
"t think because, with all the COVID stuff that happened, a lot of people are used to being at home and used to staying in their homes, so they don't want to leave the comfort of their little bubble," Fohring said.
East Stroudsburg University officials said they struggled to recruit high school students because of the pandemic, citing rising education costs and financial struggles for families.
Freshman Christian Shelton says he picked ESU over other schools and knows that not everyone has this opportunity.
"I'm blessed to be able to get an education and go to college and wake up every day and get something, but a lot of people, it really sucks that they can't afford to go to college."
The decline in enrollment isn't just happening at East Stroudsburg. The 14 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education schools have lost a combined 5,000 students, a 5 percent drop from last year.
Officials point to the pandemic and the merger of six schools, including a planned consolidation of Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, and Mansfield.
The recent drops are part of a larger trend. Since 2010 the state schools have lost more than a quarter of students.
More data from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is available here.