President Robert L. Manuel > Notes from Rob > 2023-24 > Update on 2023 Fall Census

Update on 2023 Fall Census

​Each year, we share key information from DePaul’s fall census, a review of the current quarter’s enrollment data, which allows us to make projections for the full fiscal year ahead. These insights enable our community to reflect on the real outcomes of our multi-year enrollment strategies and align on a path forward. 

Following this year’s 2023 fall census, I want to recognize improvements to both enrollment and retention, while also acknowledging some areas for continued improvement. Overall, we saw a 2.1% increase in total enrollment headcount, which exceeds our goal, due to growth in both undergraduate and graduate levels. 

Who did we welcome? 

A freshman 2023 cohort of 2,943 students, a 0.9% decrease compared to last year’s enrollment rate. Some highlights about our new freshman class: 
  • 58% enrolled through DePaul’s Test-Optional Program
  • 41% are first-generation college students
  • 51% are students of color
  • 30% are from out of state 
  • 6% are international students
1,092 new transfer students, a 4.6% increase in transfer enrollment compared to last year. Among these students:  
  • 76% are under 24 years of age
  • 54% are students of color
  • 12% are from out of state 
2,150 new graduate students, a significant increase of 18.3%. 
  • 813 are international students, a growth of 66% over last year
In addition, DePaul is seeing an increased first-year retent​ion rate, which is the number of freshman students who return the following year. The retention rate for the 2022 freshman cohort is 87%, which represents an increase of 3%. Moreover, the retention rate increased by 4% for Black students and by 6% for Hispanic students. 

Our retention initiative is an important part of Designing DePaul. It underscores our commitment to eliminating the achievement gap within the next 10 years and ensuring students graduate within four years. You can find more information on retention by visiting the Retention & Graduation Rates page on the Designing DePaul website. 

As we celebrate these achievements, we must also acknowledge the need to improve DePaul’s financial health and stability. 

It’s important to understand that the university posted an operating loss of $11.1 million for the last fiscal year, FY23. Furthermore, despite our positive enrollment and retention outcomes, our current revenue projection for this fiscal year, FY24, remains flat due to the increasing financial aid needs of our current students. For reference, the projected financial aid allocation for FY24, is $321,151,345 – or roughly 7% higher than FY23 and 15% higher than FY22.

This flat revenue, along with continued rising costs, means the difference between our expected revenues and expenses for this year is positive but thinner than we need it to be. We must continue to work towards our goal of increasing revenue through our Designing DePaul plans, while remaining diligent in our cost management efforts. 

Our intention is for retention and enrollment rates to continue to grow—along with global growth and new academic programs—to result in new sources of revenue. This growth will provide more breathing room in our operating margin to better weather any additional downturns, and provide the opportunity to further invest in our academic and student programs.  

I will share more with you about DePaul’s finances, among other topics, at the University Town Hall on Thursday, Oct. 26. You may register here.

Together, we will continue to transform DePaul into a national model for higher education and set all students up for success every step of the way.