DURANT – Southeastern Oklahoma State University reports that it experienced record-setting enrollment this fall despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.


The university enrolled 5,339 students for the fall 2020 semester, marking the largest enrollment in its 111-year history.


The number represents a 10.7 percent increase over the fall 2019 enrollment number of 4,824 students.


Student credit hours are also up 6.7 percent over last fall.


Enrollment at Southeastern increased 2.6 percent among undergraduate students and 25.8 percent for graduate students.


"This continued enrollment growth is a direct result of the efforts of our faculty and staff,’’ Southeastern president Thomas Newsom said. "They deserve a lot of credit, not only for ensuring a smooth transition to virtual learning last March, but for planning and preparing for a return to face-to-face instruction this fall."


The graduate-level master of education and business administration programs, as well as the master of science in sports administration and Native American Leadership programs experienced significant growth, as did undergraduate occupational safety and health programs.


Newsom also credits Southeastern’s affordability for the uptick in enrollment. For a third consecutive year, the school did not raise tuition or related fees, nor room-and-board charges.


Eighty-five percent of students at the university receive some form of financial aid.


"In light of the challenges our students and their families have faced dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe holding the line on costs is the right thing to do,’’ Newsom said.


"From a revenue and budget standpoint, we are fortunate to be in a good position due to our sustained enrollment growth over the last three years. It is also important to note that our budget continues to support those services directly impacting academics and student success.’’


Southeastern previously announced this fall that it would offer a $1,500 tuition waiver for all first-time, full-time freshmen hailing from Oklahoma. It also awarded an automatic Associate Tuition Waiver Scholarship of $1,000 per semester to students who hold an Associate of Arts or Science degree.


The school also made available seven Regional University Baccalaureate Scholarships, which provided full tuition plus $3,000 per year toward expenses for four years. Meanwhile, it expanded a policy providing all out-of-state undergraduate and graduate students an automatic 100 percent non-resident tuition waiver each semester.


The university also distributed funds to students as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.


Newsom said accessibility has also had a role in the university’s record growth, noting dramatic changes in the higher education model in recent years.


"We will continue to be responsive to the needs of our students," he said.