- Associated Press - Thursday, October 20, 2016

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - Though freshman enrollment at the New Mexico State University keeps rising, freshman retention has dropped and university officials are looking to change that trend.

This year, 71.3 percent of last year’s freshmen returned to NMSU compared with 73.1 percent in the fall 2015 semester, or about 40 fewer students returned, The Las Cruces Sun-News reported (http://bit.ly/2e4vItz). The slight decrease comes after the university has invested in programs to guide freshman and sophomores through their programs.

Executive Vice President and Provost Dan Howard told the Board of Regents on Wednesday that the university surveyed 181 first-year students who did not re-enroll this fall and found that 108 of them reported they did not return for financial reasons. Seventy-one of the students have accounts in collection with University Accounts Receivable, which prevented them from registering.

Other students left for colleges offering less expensive tuition, or they moved on to institutions closer to home or with better scholarships.

Howard says he is working with university staff to combat this issue, but some regents said this isn’t the first time they’ve heard about the problem. “There’s a small, worn dent over here in my spot from the years of pounding on my desk about retention,” Regent Kari Mitchell joked.

Chancellor Garrey Carruthers suggested the university establish payment plans, or make financial arrangements with struggling students.

He said that when he arrived at NMSU, he had no money.

“I got a job, and they put me on a payment plan,” Carruthers said. “Maybe we ought to look more carefully at trying to encourage a reasonable payment plan.”

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Information from: Las Cruces Sun-News, http://www.lcsun-news.com

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