Crowds of students walk on GVSU's campus during their first day of class.

Grand Valley reports record first-year enrollment

Incoming class is largest and most diverse ever, fueling overall enrollment growth

Grand Valley State University today reported a record-breaking incoming class of 4,974 students – nearly 25% larger than last year's – and increased fall enrollment, countering enrollment headwinds in higher education.

Overall enrollment is up 3% from last fall, with 22,269 students. In addition, both the incoming class and overall enrollment have the highest-ever percentages of students of diverse backgrounds, reflecting a dedication to outreach that supports the university's commitment to provide an equitable education to all, GVSU President Philomena V. Mantella said.

The president of GVSU addresses a crowd at a podium with flags and downtown Grand Rapids behind her.
President Philomena V. Mantella discusses record-breaking fall enrollment figures at a news conference on September 12.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts

“At Grand Valley, we champion an atmosphere of progress, adaptability and inclusivity to meet the needs of today's students and our community," Mantella said. "This growth in enrollment is a positive sign that learners are seeing our commitment to ensuring educational opportunities are readily available. That effort is ongoing, and we will continue to work tirelessly to be a flagship for the future of education.”

Students of color account for about 28% of the incoming class and nearly 23% of the overall student enrollment. Of the entire student body, the percentages of Hispanic/Latino students (7.6%), African American or Black (6.8%) and Asian or Pacific Islander (4.4%) are the highest levels ever.

The wide opportunities for an education that GVSU provides is also reflected in the incoming class, where the enrollment of first-generation students, veterans and students age 20 or older is also up.

A person stands at a podium with downtown Grand Rapids in the background.
Board of Trustees Chair Sue Jandernoa gives opening remarks September 12 at a press conference about fall enrollment.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts
People sit in rows of chairs indoors at a press conference.
B. Donta Truss, vice president for Enrollment Development and Educational Outreach, and his team were praised for their efforts in record-breaking fall enrollment.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts

Once students access a Grand Valley education, they are prepared for a lifetime of learning through a well-rounded liberal education foundation and hands-on learning, Mantella said. One way GVSU is achieving that goal is by forging partnerships with employers such as the Laker Accelerated Talent Link enhanced co-op experience, the Corewell Health Nurse Scholars program to address the nursing shortage and the Veterans Advance progressive work-based learning program.

These innovative programs benefit both students and employers and help GVSU graduates see the possibilities for careers in Michigan, where GVSU has more than 100,000 alumni, 90% of whom have stayed in Michigan.

A crowd bathed in blue light has their hands up, doing "the wave".
Students do the wave during Convocation August 24.
Image credit - Kendra Stanley-Mills

“This fall, Grand Valley welcomed more Lakers than ever before, who are now on lower-cost paths to good-paying, high-skill, and in-demand careers,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “I am proud to see another Michigan university break an enrollment record because of our efforts to lower the cost of higher education with the Michigan Achievement Scholarship. The scholarship is lowering costs by thousands of dollars for the majority of first-year students who started at community, private, or public colleges this fall and will continue to save them money for years so they can graduate with little or no debt.”

The growth at Grand Valley is a result of dedicated work from Admissions and Recruitment staff to travel throughout the state and beyond to ensure students know about the opportunity a GVSU education presents, said B. Donta Truss, vice president for Enrollment Development and Educational Outreach.

A group of college students walk together down a sidewalk, some smiling at the camera, some holding up peace signs.
Students in the Laker Familia program walk down the sidewalk on the Allendale campus during orientation August 21.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts

This year the Grand Valley community includes students from all 50 states, plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, students from every Michigan county and the university’s highest-ever enrollment of international students.

"Every day, our team has the honor of sharing the GVSU story and enlightening prospective students and their supporters about the unlimited possibilities for Lakers," Truss said. "As we can see, Grand Valley's commitments to equitable, empowered education resonates widely, and we remain steadfast in our work to ensure everyone has a chance to experience GVSU."

Students sit at a table in a hallway studying together.
Students from Professor Randy Winchester's chemistry class study in the hallways of the Padnos Hall of Science August 31.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts
Students look up at a substance in a bulb-shaped piece of scientific glass in a lab setting.
Students participate in a chemistry lab assignment in the Padnos Hall of Science August 31.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts


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