ATLANTA –  The University System of Georgia (USG) experienced a slight decline in enrollment this fall after seven straight years of growth.

This story also appeared in Capitol Beat News Service

Total enrollment at the university system’s 26 colleges and universities stands at 340,638 students, system officials reported Monday.

The enrollment decline resulted from a 3.7% decrease in students at the system’s state universities and a 6.7% drop-off at state colleges.

In Coastal Georgia, Savannah State University saw a 2.7% drop to 3,395 for current total enrollment. The College of Coastal Georgia had 3,249 for total enrollment and experienced a 6% drop. Georgia Southern University remained nearly flat with 0.5% growth and total enrollment of 52,350

The number of students at the system’s research and comprehensive universities actually grew, helping offset the losses at the state colleges and universities. At the four research universities, enrollment increased by a healthy 2.6%, while the comprehensive universities saw a slight increase of 0.5%.

Overall, the enrollment decline was just 0.2% – or 851 students – which system officials blamed on the disruptions brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I appreciate all the challenges our students have overcome as they have persisted on their journey toward their degree from a USG institution,” said Teresa MacCartney, the system’s acting chancellor.

Undergraduate enrollment at the system’s four-year institutions fell by 2.1%, while graduate student enrollment grew by 7.9%. In both cases, the USG numbers were stronger than the national average for four-year institutions.

Enrollment increased at five system institutions: the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State University, Augusta University and Georgia Southern University. Georgia Tech posted the largest jump at 10.3%.

Twenty institutions experienced declines in enrollment. The largest drop came at East Georgia State College, where enrollment fell by 16.2%.

Enrollment at Georgia Southwestern State University was flat.

The demographic numbers showed growth among Hispanic and Asian students, which increased their enrollments by 3.4% and 10.3%, respectively. Enrollment by Black students was down 2.4%, while white student enrollment dropped 2.2%.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

Dave Williams/Capitol Beat

Dave Williams is bureau chief for Capitol Beat News Service, a service of the Georgia Press Education Foundation.