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University of Central Arkansas enrollment for the fall 2020 semester stands at 10,335 students. For the third consecutive year, the freshman-to-sophomore retention rate for full-time freshmen has set a new university record. Additionally, the entering freshman class of 1,715, with a composite ACT score of 24.2 and a composite high school GPA of 3.59, is again one of the most academically qualified in school history, according to preliminary census data released by the university Sept. 3.

At 10,335, fall 2020 total headcount enrollment is down from 10,869 last year. This represents a 4.9% decrease. Overall student credit hour production is down 3.9%, which is less than the 5% decrease planned for in the university’s FY21 budget.

“Due to COVID-19, we had budgeted conservatively and for an expected enrollment decline,” said UCA President Houston Davis. “As predicted, factors related to COVID have influenced concurrent, out-of-state and international enrollments. We are pleased to see that enrollment exceeded our expectations and our student body remains over 10,000 strong. We feel encouraged that retention continues to improve and many of our colleges have seen growth this year.”

Almost eight out of every 10 freshmen from fall 2019 returned to UCA for the fall 2020 semester. At 78.8%, the retention rate for the fall 2019 cohort is the highest in university history, up from 74.7% in 2018.

Overall freshman-to-sophomore retention of underrepresented students is at 79.2%, up from 72.3% the previous year. This includes an 86.4% retention rate for Asian students; 81.5% for Black students, which is a 10% increase over last year; and 75.2% for Hispanic students.

This year’s incoming freshman class has a slightly higher composite high school GPA than last year’s cohort, making this the fourth consecutive year of improved composite high school GPA.

“I see many things in our preliminary numbers that make me proud,” said Patricia Poulter, provost. “Continuing to see record-setting student retention rates overall means that our student success and support initiatives are working. It is more important now than ever to ensure our students have the support they need to get from freshman orientation to graduation. Our incredible faculty and staff, strong student success initiatives, and outstanding academic instruction continue to set us apart and help our students succeed on campus and after graduation.”

Founded in 1907, the University of Central Arkansas dedicates itself to academic vitality, integrity and diversity. The university strives to provide strong academic programs to meet the diverse needs of those it serves through innovations in learning, scholarship and creative endeavors. UCA is committed to the intellectual, social and personal development of its students, the advancement of knowledge through excellence in teaching, and research and service to the community. For more information, visit uca.edu.