It’s no secret that college enrollment is down, but is there one major factor to blame for the current state of affairs?

The truth is, there isn’t. The economy is part of it, but several Michigan public universities like NMU are graduating more people than they’re taking in.

“What we’ve got now is a couple of years of those two combinations, a little smaller freshman class, (and) higher graduation rates, which are positive,” NMU vice president of enrollment management and student services Steve Neiheisel said. “You want a higher graduation rate, but we need to start rebuilding on the freshman class and that’s where we’re putting a lot of our initiatives at this point.”

And NMU isn’t the only school seeing smaller enrollment numbers. Ten of the 15 public universities in Michigan lost enrollment this past fall.

In fact, higher education enrollment dropped by 2% at the national level in the past year. For mid-sized universities like NMU, there’s a greater challenge to bringing in more students.

“I think a lot of the mid-sized institutions are going to have to make sure they differentiate themselves and make sure they identify what their strengths are and the qualities that they offer,” Neiheisel said.

Despite a heavy disillusionment some feel about higher education, there are many who still see its long-term and lifelong value.