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Enrollment at Luther College has declined over 500 students in the last five years

Posted: Wed, Nov 18, 2020 9:06 AM

(The following is analysis by's Paul Scott)

Luther College's faculty this week approved an academic restructuring proposal which will reduce faculty numbers by approximately 27 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) positions and will eliminate four programs and stand-alone minors. The proposal still must be voted on by the Luther College Board of Trustees.

The driving force of the reductions is the decline in enrollment at Luther College. Enrollment at the school peaked at around 2,500 students late last decade. By 2015, enrollment had declined by less than ten percent to 2,319 full-time equivalent students in the 2015-2016 school year.  Enrollment declined by 170 FTE students the next school year, then dropped under 2,000 students in 2018 with 1,988 full-time equivalent students.  Last year, full-time equivalent numbers were around 1,930 students. The latest enrollment figures for 2020 show 1,806 FTE students—a drop of around 125 students.

This year's decline has been caused in large part by the impact of COVID-19.  The number of entering freshman students at Luther this year—473—is actually significantly higher than the number of sophomores—400—at Luther this year.

Traditionally, 90 percent of revenues at Luther College have been connected to tuition and other enrollment factors.  Declining enrollments have led to declining tuition revenues, which explains the need to reduce faculty numbers by approximately 27 FTE positions.