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The "Crisis of Confidence" series is a multi-year effort by the Tri States Public Radio to document the impact the two-year state budget impasse had on Western Illinois University and the ongoing recovery efforts at WIU. State support for public higher education institutions has been steadily declining in Illinois for more than a decade. But the issue was compounded, during the state's historic two-year budget impasse during Fiscal Years '16 and '17 which left public colleges and universities with little state financial support. At Western Illinois University, that drastic cut in state appropriations resulted in significant budget cuts, employee furloughs, and layoffs.

Western Illinois University's Spring Enrollment Down

Rich Egger

Student enrollment dropped 9.1% this spring at Western Illinois University compared to spring of last year.

Total student headcount at the 10th day of the spring 2018 semester was 8,599. That includes all part-time and full-time students enrolled at Western’s Macomb and Quad Cities campuses.

That compares to 9,469 students in spring of 2017, when Western's enrollment first  dipped below 10,000.

A University spokeswoman responded via email, “A decrease in spring enrollment can typically be attributed to mid-year graduation and to those who do not return due to other factors: financial, academics, personal.” She wrote, “727 students received degrees at December 2017 mid-year commencement."

The decline is similar to the one reported at the beginning of the academic year. Western's student enrollment was down nearly 9% this past fall semester compared to fall of 2016.

Part of the university’s strategic plan prioritizes recruitment and retention efforts in hopes of increasing student enrollment to 10,000 and stabilizing it.