SIU mascot standing in front of the freshman class of 2023

Top: The freshman class celebrates their arrival at SIU Carbondale with Grey Dawg (photo by Liz Taylor). Middle: Chancellor Austin A. Lane gives a ride to students in the early days of the fall semester (photo by Kylen Lunn). Bottom: Students cross the pedestrian bridge on the east side of campus (photo by Yenitza Melgoza).

September 05, 2023

SIU Carbondale celebrates overall enrollment increase

by Kim Rendfeld

CARBONDALE, Ill. – For the first time since 2014, enrollment at Southern Illinois University Carbondale has grown. Overall enrollment for fall 2023 is 11,359 — 252 students, or 2.3%, more than last year — the highest overall boost in the number of students in 21 years and highest percentage increase in over 30 years. 

ChancellorRideAlong-2-sm.jpg“This is a moment for all Salukis to celebrate,” said Chancellor Austin A. Lane. “Over the last three years, our faculty, staff, students, alumni and donors set out to strategically increase our enrollment in a number of key areas. Today, that work has paid off, and there’s more to come as we continue to hit targets within the Imagine 2030 strategic plan. I want to personally thank everyone in Saluki Nation for everything they did to set us on the right trajectory. Today’s exciting news proves Salukis imagine ambitious goals, and then we make them reality!”

The university is well positioned for more growth, Lane said, and it is on track to reach its goal of 15,000 students by 2030, set in Imagine 2030.

Media availability 

SIU Carbondale Chancellor Austin A. Lane is available for interviews. Contact Jeff Harmon, chief marketing and communications officer, at or 573-352-0035.

In addition, 1,621 new freshmen are starting their college careers at SIU, which is 103, or 6.8%, more than last year. This is the first time in at least 50 years the university has increased its freshman class for four consecutive years. 

The university also saw a 10.8% increase in new transfer students to 1,188. Part of that success can be attributed to Saluki Step Ahead agreements signed with more than 40 community colleges in Illinois, Missouri and Texas since 2021. Saluki Step Ahead provides a seamless path for students who earn associate degrees in participating community colleges to obtain their SIU bachelor's degrees online in select programs. About 130 students, 121% more than last year, are earning their degrees through Saluki Step Ahead.

Enrollment in online degree programs also increased by 9.2% to 2,128. On campus, the residential student population has risen 5.5%. 

Also contributing to overall enrollment is an 11.8% increase in new graduate and professional students, compared to last year.  International student enrollment increased 6.5% to 853 students.

1T7A3861-sm.jpgIn addition, the university has ramped up its effort to recruit students from the Southern Illinois region, and those efforts have paid off, Lane said. Overall undergraduate students from the region increased by 7.2% over last year to 754. New freshmen from the region rose by 7.7%. 

“We want students in our own backyard to know they can get a world-class education and hands-on learning close to home,” he said. 

And the students are well prepared: new students with a GPA of 3.5 or better have increased 9.8% over last year. 

“This data illustrates our commitment to providing students with access to higher education and removing barriers,” Lane said. 

In 2020, SIU Carbondale launched the Saluki Commitment and Saluki Transfer Commitment to close financial gaps for students who qualify. In the last three years, SIU has joined the Common App, signed agreements with several schools and youth organizations in the Southern Illinois region and the Metro East, more strategically recruited students and increased marketing, advertising and communications.