SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — The Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) said Illinois public universities are continuing an upward trend of freshmen enrollment, according to its fall enrollment report released Friday.

Boasting increases in the last three years, the IBHE said there has been a 1.5% increase in freshmen enrollment at Illinois public universities this semester compared to the fall semester of the 2021-22 academic year.

The IBHE said more than 80% of new freshmen at Illinois public universities who were enrolled in the fall of the 2022-23 year were still enrolled in the fall semester of 2023-24.

Illinois public universities, beating national trends, saw an increase in total fall 2023 undergraduate enrollment, which is up 0.3% compared to last year. The IBHE said this number reversed several consecutive years of decreases.

“Once again, Illinois is bucking national trends and exceeding expectations with the third consecutive year of freshman enrollment growth at our public universities,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “College affordability and equity go hand-in-hand, and I couldn’t be prouder of the strides we are making to ensure that every student, especially those who have been historically locked out of higher education, has the opportunity to earn a degree.”

There has also been an increase in enrollment of African-American and Latino students in Illinois, the IBHE said. In Illinois, public universities have seen enrollment of African-American freshmen increase by 2.9% and Latino freshmen by 6.9%.

“African American and Latino freshmen enrollment in Illinois again beat national trends, which tells us that statewide strategies like efforts to simplify admissions processes through the Common App and the governor’s commitment to affordability through investment in MAP grants are making an impact,” said IBHE Chair Pranav Kothari. “These enrollment patterns demonstrate our relentless commitment to equity and to changing the trajectories of all Illinoisans’ lives.”

An example of these numbers is Illinois State University which welcomed its largest freshman class in 36 years this fall. The school welcomed 4,147 students, which is up 4% from fall 2022.

To see the full IBHE fall enrollment report, click here.