NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – After a five-year low in enrollment in the spring, the University of New Mexico is hoping to rebound this fall. They say returning to in-person learning is one factor that could help with that. UNM says a drop in enrollment in the spring is typical, but COVID-19 presented new problems.

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“I think we probably saw fewer students overall, nationally going to college,” said Dan Garcia the vice president of Enrollment Management at UNM. “Economic conditions were challenging for a lot of families, as well as a little bit of fatigue with online learning,” Garcia said.

Garcia says enrollment at the main campus for the upcoming semester is down more than 400 students from this time last year, but he says there’s still a lot of time for prospective students to register.

New Mexico State University saw a decrease in more than 2,000 students between fall and spring last year. They were unable to say how many students have enrolled for the upcoming semester, but they say they’re optimistic, and expect to see similar numbers to last fall which was 22,000 students.

The New Mexico Higher Education Department says now that the lottery scholarship will once again cover 100-percent of tuition, hoping to inspire more students to pursue a degree. “It will impact enrollment because it creates access and opportunity for New Mexican’s who may not be able to afford college and post-secondary degrees,” said Stephanie Rodriguez the cabinet secretary for the department.

UNM says while their main campus is a bit behind at the moment, all of their branch campuses are either up or on par with years past. Its Taos campus is up to 59-percent, Los Alamos is up to 14-percent and Valencia is seeing an 8-percent increase. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, enrollment fell nationwide by more than 600,000 students.