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Press Release

September 18, 2019


UNC System announces second year of record enrollment

Nearly 240,000 students enrolled in 16 public universities in North Carolina


CHAPEL HILL, NC – More students are enrolled in the University of North Carolina System than ever before, according to final enrollment data for the Fall 2019 semester.

The total enrollment across the UNC System is 239,987 – up 1.3 percent from last year’s previous record enrollment number of 236,993. Undergraduate enrollment is up 0.9 percent, while graduate enrollment increased by 2.6 percent.

“At a time when attendance at other universities is declining, our enrollment continues to break records,” said UNC System Interim President Bill Roper. “These numbers suggest that our work is having an impact. We are delivering unparalleled education that is more affordable and more accessible to more people.”

A major factor contributing to record enrollment is improved student retention across the System. Moreover, the UNC System has benefited from two initiatives passed by the General Assembly in 2016 that significantly improve college affordability. The NC Promise Tuition Plan reduces in-state tuition to $500 per semester and out-of-state tuition to $2,500 per semester at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Elizabeth City State University and Western Carolina University. Likewise, the fixed tuition program ensures tuition costs will stay the same for North Carolina residents through four years of continuous enrollment at all other UNC System universities.


UNC System Total Enrollment by Headcount

  Fall 2018 Fall 2019 Percent
Census Census Change
Appalachian State University 19,108 19,280 0.9%
East Carolina University 28,718 28,651 -0.2%
Elizabeth City State University 1,677 1,772 5.7%
Fayetteville State University 6,318 6,551 3.7%
N.C. A&T State University 12,142 12,556 3.4%
NC Central University 8,207 8,011 -2.4%
NC State University 35,479 36,304 2.3%
UNC Asheville 3,762 3,600 -4.3%
UNC-Chapel Hill 30,011 29,877 -0.4%
UNC Charlotte 29,710 29,615 -0.3%
UNC Greensboro 20,106 20,196 0.4%
UNC Pembroke 7,137 7,698 7.9%
UNC Wilmington 16,747 17,499 4.5%
UNC School of the Arts 1,042 1,086 4.2%
Western Carolina University 11,639 12,167 4.5%
Winston-Salem State University 5,190 5,124 -1.3%
UNC System 236,993 239,987 1.3%

The number of incoming first-year students and transfers fell slightly, which coincides with a slowdown in the growth of high school graduating classes and a stronger job market. However, the data suggest stronger retention of students at UNC System institutions and other improvements that help students graduate in a timely fashion.