LSU, Southern Buck Declining Enrollment Trend, Here’s How

Business Report

The Capital Region’s public colleges and universities are growing their student bodies even as state and national enrollment trends point in the other direction. 

A growing base of higher education students helps fill the pipeline talent for businesses, while educational attainment is strongly correlated to health and income, Baton Rouge Area Chamber officials say in a new commentary that attributes much of the enrollment growth to students from outside Louisiana. 

Despite a 2% decline in enrollment in Louisiana Board of Regents schools since 2017 and a 9% nationwide dip, the Baton Rouge area’s four local schools have seen a 22% increase. 

  • At LSU and Southern University, while the population of students from Louisiana has remained fairly steady, out-of-state student enrollment has grown significantly for each institution. 
  • Five years ago, 18% of LSU’s student population came from other U.S. states; that proportion reached 29% in 2022. 
  • At Southern, the share of students from other states has grown from 14% to 27%. 

Such students bring out-of-state dollars into the region and help Baton Rouge in the nationwide competition for talent, BRAC says. 

Meanwhile, Baton Rouge Community College and River Parishes Community College have seen growth of about 1,500 students between them. 

  • Enrollment in health care and computer/information sciences courses—two professions in high demand locally—has grown since 2017 by 18% and 53%, respectively. 
  • The growth comes as the state has rolled out a number of programs to encourage shorter-term training programs, such as Reboot Your Career and the M.J. Foster Promise Program.

You can read more from BRAC’s Jake Polansky and Andrew Fitzgerald here and see the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana’s take on the looming “higher education enrollment cliff” here.

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