Fall 2020 enrollment increases by nearly 8 percent, despite COVID-19

by Pamela Berry-Johnson

Posted on Nov 18, 2020

Fort Valley State University saw an increase in fall 2020 enrollment of 7.7 percent over last year's number. The hike defies a national trend where undergraduate enrollment overall has been down at institutions of higher learning. It also continues an upward trend for FVSU that began in the summer.

FVSU's fall 2020 enrollment was 2,827, including 785 freshmen, compared to last year's 2,624 students. According to FVSU's enrollment data, the largest enrollment gains resulted from an additional 301 first-time freshman compared to last year's freshman class. FVSU also saw an increase in Hispanic students, 1890 Scholarship Program Agriculture scholars, Georgia Hope scholars, and students enrolled with border waivers (Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, North Carolina and Tennessee).

Paul Jones, FVSU president, said he was excited to see such an increase, especially in light of the ongoing pandemic.

"The increase not only reflects all the hard work undertaken by everyone at FVSU to continue aggressively sharing what our university has to offer," Jones said. "It also reflects a determination on behalf of our students to get prepared for their future, no matter what and that they see FVSU as an important part of that equation."

In a recent report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, data shows COVID-19 having a dampening effect on enrollment this fall. The Research Center studied the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on enrollment in higher education, producing a new report about every month this fall. The latest data showed enrollment down overall by 3.3 percent, following a drop last year of 3 percent.

"We are encouraged by the year-over-year increase in our fall enrollment and determined to continue our efforts to recruit and retain quality students and support them through the completion of their college career," said Jesse Kane, FVSU vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.

Another bright spot for FVSU this fall was introducing a new initiative called Searchlight Scholars, which provides selected out-of-state students with scholarship funding of up to $52,400 over four years. The scholars are also paired with faculty/staff mentors and research experiences and are part of a bid to attract the most talented students to FVSU from beyond Georgia's borders. In addition, the University forged a partnership with the 5 Strong Scholarship Foundation to provide full-tuition scholarships and ongoing support to promising student leaders. The 5 Strong Foundation mission is to help increase graduation and retention rates at partnering Universities.

FVSU was one of 16 out of the 26 University System of Georgia (USG) institutions that experienced enrollment increases this fall. The overall increase within USG was a 2.4 percent growth over last year's fall enrollment figures.

To view the complete USG enrollment report, visit

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