Southeast Sets Record High Retention Rate


Southeast Missouri State University has set an all-time high retention rate and has seen an increase in its six-year graduation rate, according to a fourth-week enrollment report issued this week.

Dr. Debbie Below, vice president for enrollment management and student success, presented the report to the Board of Regents today, saying the fall to fall retention rate for first-time full-time students has reached an all-time high at 75.3%, up 0.9% from this time last year. In addition, the six-year graduation rate stands at 49.7%, also up 0.9% from 2018.

She said graduate student enrollment at Southeast Missouri State University is 1,113 this fall, an increase of 8.1% from last year.

Growth in enrollments in Southeast’s graduate programs, particularly in applied computer science, teacher leadership and special reading K-12 licensure, have driven the increase with enrollments in the Master of Science in applied computer science seeing a 170% increase and the Department of Leadership, Middle and Secondary Education a 21% increase since last fall.

Southeast also has 564 new transfer students this fall, an increase of 2.7% over this time last year. Total Southeast enrollment stands at 10,637 today, a decline of 3.9%.

Below highlighted the University’s new scholarship structure and enhanced admissions and marketing efforts as keys in attracting new students.

“We are optimistic about many of the trends we see,” Below said.

The University’s new Copper Dome scholarship program announced last fall that now has 70% of first-year students receiving scholarship aid, up from 30% previously. Southeast also has modified academic requirements to renew these scholarships, and the award values are progressive.

For fall 2020, Below said the University is offering the new Will To Do Award in which recipients will pay $0 in tuition and general fees to attend Southeast. The Will To Do Award is a need-based scholarship to fill the gap in eligible Pell students’ unmet tuition and general fees beginning in fall 2020. The new scholarship underscores Southeast’s commitment to providing financial support to students who need it most while also boosting efforts to support Missouri’s college completion goals.

Eligible Pell Grant students who are Missouri residents with a minimum 2.75 high school grade point average and who will be enrolled full time as beginning freshmen in fall 2020 are eligible for the scholarship. Visit for more information.

“We recognize the urgency in assisting our most financially at-risk students and are allocating our resources to better provide access to higher education in this area,” said Dr. Carlos Vargas, president of Southeast Missouri State University. “At Southeast, we believe in the value of getting a high-quality education without the high cost.”

Southeast encourages incoming students to begin planning now to attend a Show Me Day on campus this fall. Show Me Day is an opportunity to visit Southeast and learn about the variety of academic programs and services offered. The first fall 2019 Show Me Day is scheduled for Oct. 12 with additional dates planned throughout the fall and into 2020. Register at Southeast is now accepting applications for the fall 2020 semester, and students are encouraged to apply online at

Admissions information and resources are available at For more information about Southeast, visit, or plan a visit at