The University of Wyoming is planning to reopen for in-person instruction this fall. But after many years of steady and sometimes increasing enrollment, the institution is expecting a significant drop because of COVID-19.
Economic instability and would-be students' uncertainty about the future could lead to as much as a 20 percent dip in enrollment at Wyoming's only four-year university.
UW Spokesman Chad Baldwin said universities and colleges across the U.S. are in the same boat.
"We're definitely not unique here," he said. "Every institution in the country is in a very similar situation."
Decreased enrollment could cost the university as much as $10 million in missed tuition. That loss will come on top of whatever cuts the state makes to the university's funding.
Specific cuts have not been decided or announced, but Baldwin said the dip in funds will affect basically everything at the university.
There's still time to enroll for classes, so the figures are not final. But the enrollment dip could include a 40 percent drop in graduate student enrollment.
Baldwin said that's thanks to a number of factors.
"Graduate student numbers also take into account a large number of international students," he said. "And we know that, across the country, international student numbers are going to be down significantly.
That could make it difficult to offer introductory courses, which are often taught by graduate students. Baldwin said so far, however, no departments have reported trouble staffing those classes.
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