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New Missouri Western State University students walk on campus Thursday afternoon to head for one of several venues for their orientation. Officials are working on strategies designed to ease an expected decline in enrollment. Fall classes start Monday.

Missouri Western State University officials said on Thursday that there are concerns student enrollment could decline this fall.

At the university’s Board of Governors meeting, Dr. Doug Davenport, who serves as provost/vice president of academic affairs, said the early prediction shows Western may suffer at least a 2 percent drop in its overall enrollment.

“We’re anticipating that to be a bit higher,” Davenport said in his monthly report to the board. “We expect it to increase slightly. We look to be down a little over 6 percent.”

He said one reason for the decrease could be that some students have simply not paid their bills in full to the university or followed up on their payment plan. Davenport said many students will actually re-enroll and make good on their payment plans.

An almost 12 percent decline in freshmen enrollment is anticipated. More definite data is expected later.

“We’re still ahead of where we were two years ago,” Davenport said. “These numbers are very much tentative.”

Despite the adverse forecasts, the university said it is taking steps toward alleviating the shortfall and reducing barriers to higher student enrollment. One method calls for following up with students who have dropped out of Western. Some students have said they are encountering difficulties with the enrollment process itself, and Davenport said that will be reviewed.

“We’re focusing on aggressive discussions with those students who have not yet enrolled, seeking to engage those students who have enrolled but have not yet paid, and making sure they are able to set up a payment plan with us,” he said.

There is a segment of students, he continued, who want to study at Western but are not able to follow through on their decision.

“They’re not going anywhere,” he said.

Another step will focus on making Western more friendly to those in the military interested in taking its classes. Financial aid and admissions officials are working to turn the experience for veterans into a one-stop shop.

“I think this is one of the keys to future enrollment,” Davenport told the governors about the strategy involving the military and veterans.

Northwest Missouri State University also issued an enrollment report on Thursday, showing that its opening day enrollment is up by a preliminary 2 percent over last year.

Ray Scherer can be reached

at ray.scherer@newspressnow.com.

Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPScherer.