By Associated Press - Saturday, February 18, 2017

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Board of Regents is considering a task force to seek ways to keep more students in the state for their higher education.

Regents chairwoman Zoe Newton suggested the formation of a group to study the issue last week after a Kansas State University administrator presented data showing declining enrollment among first-time, in-state freshman dropped nearly 10 percent from 27,254 in fall 2012, when it was at its peak, to 24,576 in the fall of 2016.

The dip among in-state freshman was partially offset by an increase in out-of-state and international students, according to Regents data that tracks enrollment in 53 higher education institutions throughout the state, including public universities, community colleges, technical colleges and private religious intuitions.

Possible reasons for the dip include an improving economy that has more students jumping straight into the workforce, rising tuition costs and higher admission standards, Regents spokeswoman Breeze Richardson told The Associated Press.

Richardson said Regents staff will report back to the board in March on the task force, which will focus on boosting enrollment among first-generation students. Overall, nearly 65 percent of Kansas high school students went on to public, private or out-of-state higher education institutions immediately upon graduating, according to 2015 Regents data, which is the most recent available. Historically, another 12 percent of graduates eventually pursue higher education, Richardson said.

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