FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Student enrollment at Fayetteville State University is at a record high this year.
The university said it is seeing its largest freshman class since 2009 with about 760 students, an increase of about 130 from 2021. Also, students affiliated with the military are at an all-time high with more than 2,000 of them on campus; that is 300 students more than last year.
University officials said their record enrollment numbers are in part because of how affordable they make it to get a good education.
"For an in-state student, that's $500 per semester. That goes a long way," Chancellor Darrell Allison said. "Most importantly, or just as important, I should say, the military-connected student--it's one of the initiatives we've done there--are tuition-free. So that means spouse, dependent, active duty, reservist, they come to Fayetteville State University tuition-free."
The rising student demographic at Fayetteville State is part of a larger national trend, as increasing numbers of students are choosing Historically Black Colleges and Universities for higher education. Fayetteville State officials said the university has also been making a concerted effort to better understand its ever-evolving student demographic.
"We're close to 30% of military-affiliated students. We do know we have a very large population of adult learners who have a different type of experience that they would like. And so for us, it's about enhancing the academic portfolio to reach those different demographics," said Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Monica Leach.
Furthermore, the university noted that it has been financially incentivizing students to get their diplomas faster, financing some students' summer classes so they can graduate on time.
"They're not only achieving their dream in four years or less of getting their diploma, but they're doing it cheaper. And they're able to save those dollars to go into America and be that productive citizen," Allison said.
Allison Taylor, a sophomore psychology student, said she thinks the school's familial environment is helping attract more enrollees.
"We always show it throughout the open house, fall preview, spring preview," Taylor said. "Anything that anyone can come to, you will always be welcome with a smile, a 'hey, how are you doing?' and welcoming environment."
Officials said incoming freshmen and those affiliated with the military are not the only ones seeing record numbers. The university said its matriculation rate at more than 1,000 students is 30% higher than in 2021 alone.