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Nearly 4,700 new Mizzou Tigers on the prowl as semester starts with highest freshmen increase in 10 years

Retention rate of 87.3 percent breaks record as more students return to campus

August 20th, 2018

Story Contact: Christian Basi, 573-882-4430,

COLUMBIA, Mo. — MU began classes today with a freshman class of 4,696 students, an increase of 13.1 percent compared to last year and the largest increase in 10 years. Additionally, the 87.3 percent retention rate is the highest in MU’s history, indicating that students are succeeding academically and are committed to continuing their studies at the university.

“I am beyond excited to welcome these new Tigers and our returning students back to campus,” MU Chancellor Alexander Cartwright said. “Our students have opportunities they cannot experience at any other Missouri institution — undergraduate research, hands-on training, service learning opportunities, SEC athletics, a state-of-the-art health care system and engagement in all 114 Missouri counties. We are not just the University of Missouri; we are the University for Missouri.”

Tiger Walk ’18 from MU News Bureau on Vimeo.

The retention rate measures how many freshmen from the 2017-18 school year returned to Mizzou. Additionally, Mizzou saw a 29 percent jump in the number of returning students choosing to live on campus. The university’s residence halls are at 93.4 percent capacity, compared to 77 percent last year.

New scholarships announced during Cartwright’s first year as chancellor have made Mizzou more attractive and affordable for thousands of students.

  • More than 1,500 students received Missouri Land Grants, which cover all tuition and fees for Pell-eligible Missouri residents who qualify for admission to Mizzou. More than 240 students also qualified for Land Grant Honors, which cover 100 percent of unmet financial need, including tuition, fees, books, and room and board, for Pell-eligible students enrolled in the Honors College.
  • More than 550 students received Black and Gold or Border State scholarships, which provide assistance for children of alumni and students from neighboring states.
  • Nearly 30 incoming freshmen attending Mizzou received tuition and housing waivers as National Merit Scholars.
  • Twenty freshmen received ROTC scholarships that cover room and board costs for incoming ROTC students who are national scholarship winners from the Army, Air Force, Navy or Marines.
  • Every student on campus is benefiting from initiatives to lower textbook costs significantly.

More than 1,000 students transferred to Mizzou, an increase of nearly 5 percent. In 2017, Mizzou and Moberly Area Community College created MizzouMACC, a partnership designed to help students transfer to Mizzou seamlessly. This year, 171 students are enrolled in the program.

Other preliminary figures indicate another strong freshman class. The average ACT score of 26 is above the state (20.4) and national (21) averages, and the number of students who have an ACT of 30 or more on campus increased by 16 percent.

Additionally, minority enrollment in the freshman class increased by 29.7 percent.

“Student success is at the heart of what we do at Mizzou,” said Kim Humphrey, interim vice provost for Enrollment Management. “Over the past decade, we have made student success a priority. We have invested a lot of time and effort into programs that support our students academically and provide them with environments that are conducive to learning. Our strong retention rate, which is one of the highest among all of Missouri’s universities, shows us that students have successful academic experiences on campus. This class is very reflective of the state of Missouri.”

In addition to rising enrollment, Mizzou is experiencing an increase in support from alumni and friends of the university. Last year the Mizzou: Our Time to Lead campaign raised more than $44 million for student support and scholarships. For example, in its second year, the Hummel Family Scholarship was awarded to more than 200 students.

Typically funds donated to the university are restricted and are designated for specific uses, including scholarships, research support and long-term investments, by those who have generously given.

Editor’s note: Mizzou Chancellor Alexander Cartwright shared a welcome back message for all Mizzou students and his five tips for student success.


Fall 2017 Fall 2018 Difference
First-Time Freshmen 4,152 4,696 +544/+13.1%
Freshmen with 30+ ACT 771 894 +123/+16.0%
Retention Rate 86.6% 87.3%* +0.7%
Minority Freshmen 785 1,018 +233/+29.7%
Total Enrollment 30,567 29,443 -1,124/-3.7%

*indicates record