University of Montana enrollment numbers are down according to a statement released by UM, but retention is up.

The release said 10,015 students were enrolled for the Fall 2020 semester, a decrease of 4.5% from last Fall because drastically fewer freshmen enrolled for the Fall semester.

Dave Kunz, director of strategic communications at the University, said only about 1,000 freshmen had enrolled, a decrease of 11% from 2019. He said that puts UM in line with other universities.

But the drop isn’t due to students not applying to the University. According to Kunz, applications were actually up by 7% this year.

“Over the course of the spring and summer, we saw a large number of students and families make some different decisions about college in light of COVID-19, with some staying closer to home and others taking some time off,” University President, Seth Bodnar, said in the release.

The number of enrolled students is based on the number of students who have been sent registration bills, and may increase or decrease until the University's Fall 2020 census is complete.

The University will release its final count during the last week of September, but Kunz said he doesn’t expect the numbers to change drastically.

The University also said its budget would not be negatively impacted by having fewer students this year due to budget planning at the end of the spring semester and over the summer.

“We’re happy where things are at right now given the uncertainty with COVID,” Kunz said.

The press release also revealed the number of students who stayed with the University after their first year had increased by 3.6% since last Fall. The University attributed the retention bump to “a deep commitment to prioritizing the needs of students above all else.”

President Bodnar hailed the increase as a sign of the University’s success.

“To increase rates of student retention and persistence in the midst of a global pandemic is an incredible achievement,” Bodnar said