ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The pandemic is having a huge impact on the number of students attending state schools. The University of New Mexico’s first day is less than a week away, and they are down.

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UNM was the first university in the state to require the vaccine for their students. UNM officials don’t believe requiring it has had a significant impact on enrollment. “I’m increasingly hearing parents and students saying they are concerned about others on campus, they’re health and safety,” said Dan Garcia, Vice President for UNM Enrollment Management. “So for many of them that sort of pushed them over the edge to say I want to begin or I want to continue at UNM because of the vaccine requirement.”    

The final numbers for enrollment for this fall semester won’t be announced until the middle of next month. Garcia said as of now, UNM has a little more than 20,000 students and counting registered for the fall semester. That is almost a 10% drop compared to final enrollment numbers back in the fall of 2019 which was before the pandemic.

In 2019 they had more than 22,000 students enrolled. Garcia said some factors in the decrease besides the vaccine requirement, include families facing economic challenges and can’t afford the tuition. Along with international students having difficulty getting visas. 

Students on campus said they weren’t in favor of the vaccine policy but got it because they wanted to come back on campus. “Honestly, I chose to get the vaccine because they said I couldn’t go into the classes if I didn’t,” said Alyxa Chavez. “It was a big issue, so I just had to get it.”

“I do know a couple people who aren’t going to do school this year or they’ll just do full online so they don’t have to get it,” said Cameron Fox.

UNM does have a free vaccine clinic in the student union building. The clinic runs Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and will operate until August 27.  

UNM students, faculty, and staff must get the vaccine by Sept. 30. There is an exemption for people with medical issues or religious reasons. 

New Mexico State University couldn’t provide KRQE News 13 with their current enrollment numbers but said they should have the final numbers by Sept. 5. In fall 2019, about 14,000 students were enrolled at NMSU. CNM has about 15,000 students enrolled right now. That is down about 20% from fall 2019.