UW-Madison posts strong fall first-year enrollment numbers despite pandemic

Devi Shastri
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
UW-Madison entered a historic pandemic semester with historically high enrollment numbers.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison published its official enrollment numbers Tuesday, touting record-breaking total enrollment and its second-largest freshman class in history despite the challenges of opening a campus during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are 7,306 freshmen students in the class of 2024, topped only by last fall's 7,550-strong class of 2023. Overall student enrollment is 45,537, up from last year's record 45,317.

The university also saw an increase in the number of domestic students from underrepresented groups — students who identify as African-American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, or Southeast Asian-American.

Of the total 7,306 freshman enrolled this fall, 520 are Hispanic/Latino, 176 are Black, 17 are Native American, 676 are Asian, 298 are two or more races, 550 are international students and 4,849 are white.

The numbers are based on a head count of students traditionally taken on the 10th day of the semester. This means the tallies do not include students who enrolled at the start of the semester but dropped out by the Sept. 11 deadline to receive a full tuition refund.

UW-Madison received 45,941 applications — up 4.6% — for the fall semester, despite the uncertainty around if the university would reopen for in-person instruction this fall. 

Of those, 3,802 students from Wisconsin enrolled, representing all but one of the state's counties. The number of Wisconsin students admitted went up from 68% to 73% this fall, compared to a 54% admittance rate for non-resident applicants.

About 64% of all undergraduates at UW-Madison are either in-state students or are enrolled through reciprocity program with Minnesota.

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Bucky's Tuition Promise — which covers tuition and fees for in-state students whose families have an adjusted gross income of less than $60,000 — covered 755 freshmen students. Alongside the Badger Promise, which covers qualifying transfer students, about one in five of the university's new in-state students have tuition and fees covered in full.

"We know the financial ramifications of the global pandemic have hit many Wisconsin families hard," said Helen Faith, director of the Office of Student Financial Aid. "With Bucky's Tuition Promise and Badger Promise, we had two large-scale programs already up and running that could quickly and easily alleviate some of the financial pressures for many of our Wisconsin-resident students."

Contact Devi Shastri at 414-224-2193 or DAShastri@jrn.com. Follow her on Twitter at @DeviShastri.