Minority enrollment, overall numbers growing at Washington public colleges, universities

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SEATTLE — Minority enrollment is growing at Washington's public colleges and universities while total enrollment continues its upward trend, school officials reported this week.

The University of Washington, Washington State University, Western Washington University and Eastern Washington University all reported increases in student population, including some record numbers.

Total public university enrollment grew by about 3,800 students between fall 2013 and fall 2014, quite a jump from last year's reported statewide increase of 800 students.

— UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON

At the University of Washington, total enrollment grew from 52,661 to 54,223 at the school's three campuses. Those students come from 47 states plus Washington, D.C., but 77 percent of freshmen at the three campuses are Washington residents.

UW officials report the number of underrepresented minorities is growing at all levels, including 11 percent of all graduate students this year, which continues a 10-year trend.

UW also notes that 4.5 percent of state resident students in the freshman class are African-American, which equals the proportion of African-American students in Washington's public schools.

A national and statewide focus on college access is starting to show results across Washington, said Sheila Edwards Lange, UW vice president and vice provost of diversity and minority affairs.

College access has become the big thing in higher education, no longer just the focus of minority affairs offices, Lange said.

For improvement in this state, she gave a lot of credit to College Bound, which began in 2007 as a scholarship program for low-income students that requires them to make a commitment to college when they are in middle school.

This year's freshman class is the second class including College Bound students.

— WESTERN

Western has 235 self-reported College Bound students in its 2014 freshman class, compared to 175 last year, said Clara Capron, assistant vice president of enrollment and student services. Nearly 29 percent of the members of the freshman class were students of color.

Western's fall enrollment was record-breaking at 15,060 students, compared to 14,950 in fall 2013. But fewer students applied this year, which Capron said was a result of fewer high school graduates in Washington state in 2014, the bottom of a demographic trough.

The Washington Student Achievement Council wants to beat the federal government's and Lumina Foundation's goal of 60 percent of the population holding a college degree or professional credential by 2025.

"It can't just be the privileged few," Lange said. To grow college attainment, students from all ethnic groups and economic abilities will need to be recruited and kept in school.

"WSU has invested a lot and they're doing outstanding work in terms of recruiting and supporting students once they get there," the UW official said of her colleagues at WSU.

— WSU

Washington State University reports its freshman class is among its most diverse in its history, with 35 percent of freshmen identifying themselves as students of color.

Nearly 85 percent of the WSU student body is from Washington state. The university reported 28,686 students enrolled this fall, compared to 27,111 in fall 2013.

— EASTERN

Eastern reports its enrollment has set a record for the sixth consecutive years, with 13,453 students this fall, compared to 12,791 in fall 2013. The freshman class almost set a record, with the most students entering the university since 2005.

EWU officials reported more than 35 percent of their students do not identify as Caucasian, up from 33 percent in fall 2013, for example the school's Latino student population grew by 36 students.

— EVERGREEN and CENTRAL

Enrollment at The Evergreen State College is down slightly and Central Washington University has reported enrollment of about the same as last year.

Evergreen enrollment was 4,219 this fall, compared to 4,398 in fall 2013, but both new students and student retention have both improved this year, along with diversity on their campus.

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