It’s been six years since the University of Montana has seen an incoming freshman class this big, and UM officials are celebrating.

We spoke with UM Director of Strategic Communications Dave Kuntz on Monday, who provided details.

“For the second year in a row here at the University of Montana, we're welcoming a really large freshman class to campus,” said Kuntz. “This is the first time in over a decade that we've been able to stack two consecutive growing classes on top of each other, so we're really poised here for continued growth in the future. So it's exciting, and our campus population continues to grow, especially here at the main campus.”

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Kuntz went on to provide more specific information on the incoming freshman class.

“In total, we have about 10,000 students at the University of Montana, and that includes just over 1,400 freshmen who are here for the first time this year, that 6% larger than the incoming class we have the year before, which is 30% larger than that fall 2020 class,” he said. “So we've put together quite a growth trajectory here. This is a big deal because the university is largely funded based on our size, both with the tuition dollars that we receive, as well as the state’s share of support. So given these back to back bigger classes, and the university's health, our revenues are sitting at about 12 percent higher than they were last year.”

Kuntz pointed to some of the reasons for the growth in enrollment over the past six years.

“Over the past two years, the University has really brought on some strong leaders and reinvested in some processes that have made us a strong university of choice here in the region,” he said. “It's not just students in Montana, but we've seen a growth in our out of state students. We've seen a growth of veteran students who left the military service and chose to come to the University of Montana with their GI benefits. We've seen significant growth in the number of Native American students on our campus over the past couple of years. So across the board, the university is in a strong position to grow, and that's because a lot of the hard work that's been done to here on the ground and across the state, as we make the case to prospective students on why they should choose the University of Montana to continue their education.”

The University came through some very hard times in the past decade, however, Kuntz said he believes that the increase in enrollment is definitely sustainable in the future.

“We have the processes in place to continue sustaining this,” he said. “Also, as we think about the lifecycle of a student, we do have one small class on our campus right now, which is our junior class; and they came in during the COVID year in the fall 2020. As we prepare to graduate those students, it's our hope that we can backfill them with another large class and that is where we will really start seeing some compounding growth here at the campus. So we're well positioned to keep growing, and we're going to keep our foot on the pedal to make sure that we continue to provide the best opportunity for students both in Montana and across the region to keep on learning here at the University of Montana.”

UM reported a total student headcount of 9,955 for the fall 2022 census. The University’s fall tuition revenue is nearly $40 million, 12.4 percent higher than the same period in 2021.

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