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Washington State University Office of the Provost

Freshman retention on the rise at WSU

Washington State University retained 80.8 percent of freshman students from the fall of 2016 to the fall of 2017, a rise of nearly two percentage points from the previous year. Retention of all incoming students (freshman and transfer) rose more than one percentage point, continuing a three-year trend of improvement.

Provost Dan Bernardo is thrilled to see the steady improvement in retention, and says he is dedicated to affording each WSU student every opportunity to reach his or her academic goals.

“We’ve invested time and resources into programs and tools to help students in need and I think we are all reaping the benefits of those investments,” Bernardo says. “But programs don’t retain students, people do.  It’s critical that we continue to provide excellent support for all of our students as they strive to earn their degrees at WSU. We appreciate the faculty, staff and WSU community members who have personally invested in our students’ success.”

At WSU Pullman, freshman retention was 81.7 percent, an increase of 3.4 percentage points since 2015. At WSU Vancouver, freshman retention rate was 77.3 percent, a 4.9 percentage point increase since 2015. Among transfer students, WSU Spokane retained 96.3 percent of its students from fall of 2016, an increase of 6 percentage points since 2015.

The positive gains were even more pronounced among minority, low-income and first-generation students. Freshman retention for minority new freshman students increased 2.2 percentage points to 79 percent overall. Among low-income students, which is determined by Pell Grant eligibility, new freshman retention improved 2.5 percentage points to 76.3 percent, and among first-generation students, new freshman retention improved 2.5 percentage points to 77.9 percent.

WSU reported its highest first-year retention rate since 2011, and additional gains are expected as the University continues to focus greater attention on this outcome and recruits more academically prepared students.

Washington State University