Advocates for SIUE have been pointing to this moment for months, saying the school deserves a larger share of the system's state appropriation. SIU Trustees will get an update on a cost study of the system during their meetings next week.
School officials say they are seeing some positive signs for the future.
Ten-day numbers released Tuesday show enrollment stands at 12,817 students.
SIU-C spokesperson Rae Goldsmith says officials anticipated the drop because this is a transition year to make the necessary changes to bring more students to campus.
"There are some good news in the numbers. Freshmen retention rates are up, our GPA and our ATC scores of incoming students are up. So, we're seeing some of the progress we hope to make. It's a first step toward turning enrollment around in the future."
Goldsmith says the average ACT score for new students is 23.65, the highest in at least 20 years. She says that means the students who are enrolled are ready to succeed.
"We have strategically taken the step to make sure that all of the students we enroll are well prepared for success. So, we have been more selective. We do believe as we attract stronger students, they will attract stronger students, our retention rates will go up and our enrollment will grow."
She says the retention rate for freshmen is up to 71-percent, the highest in recent years.
Goldsmith says SIU-C is re-examining everything it does to help attract more students. She says that includes academic reorganization, rebuilding the core curriculum, reinforcing academic advising, and strengthening career services.
"Is the student experience at SIU everything we want it to be? That's why you've seen us starting to add concerts. We're looking ahead to some other sorts of things we can do, like E-sports, student Maker Space for creative ideas."
She says attendance at open houses for prospective students has increased and applications for Fall 2019 are up over the previous year.
Chancellor Carlo Montemagno's enrollment goal is for 18,300 students by the year 2025.