Brigham Young University will raise its enrollment cap starting next fall, signaling the first significant increase to its student body in more than two decades.
The Provo university will increase its enrollment by about 1.5% each year for the next six years, according to Carri Jenkins, a spokeswoman for the university. The increase will begin in fall 2020 with a few hundred students being added to the campus.
The percentage will be based on the university’s current total enrollment, which was previously capped at about 30,000 students.
Jenkins did not provide what the enrollment cap is anticipated to be at after the six years of increases. She said the exact number of additional students is not fixed. While BYU might see a slight increase in its number of transfer students, the increase will be focused on undergraduate students.
She said the change is part of a long-term plan to expand how many students can have a BYU education.
“This goal is part of our inspiring learning initiative, as well as our student success and inclusion efforts,” Jenkins said.
BYU’s board of trustees — made up of the highest-ranking members in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — authorized the university last year to begin exploring moderately raising its enrollment.
BYU last significantly adjusted its enrollment cap in 1998 when it added 2,000 students through a phased increase.
Jenkins said the university does not plan to build additional on-campus student housing to accommodate the increase and it does not anticipate adding new programs.
She said the increase is part of a deeper initiative that includes exploring how to increase its retention rate.
“We would like to see every student who enrolls at BYU complete their education, which would already increase our already high graduation rate of 86%,” she said.
The church-owned university has seen increased popularity and competition as the worldwide church has grown throughout the last several decades. The church claims to have more than 16 million members, with an additional million added every three years through births and baptisms.
Enrollment caps on church-owned schools have stayed mostly unchanged as the church expands. The church owns and operates BYU in addition to BYU-Idaho, BYU-Hawaii, LDS Business College and its newest program, BYU-Pathway Worldwide.
A potential solution to manage growth presented in the 1960s proposed building a junior college system across the nation, with campuses in locations such as Anaheim, Phoenix and Portland, but the proposal was dropped.
BYU recently adjusted its admission process to encompass a more holistic process and place less focus purely on GPAs and ACT scores in order to admit a wider range of students. Even with those efforts, test scores of the admitted freshman classes have remained high.
BYU had an acceptance rate of 68.5% for the 2019 spring/summer/fall admission season, with 7,775 of the 11,356 applicants being accepted, according to information from the university. The accepted students had an average GPA of 3.87 and an average ACT of 28.6, about eight points above the nation’s average composite score.