COLUMBIA, MO (KCTV) -- Enrollment at the University of Missouri has increased for the first time since its national controversy in 2015 concerning racial issues and equality on campus.

The jump in total enrollment is about 1 percent, but freshman enrollment is up 16 percent from 2018 to 2019. Nationally, student populations at college campuses dropped about 2 percent.

Even Missouri State University, who had seen steady growth for the past five years, reported having fewer students. 

An increase in enrollment is usually good news for any university, but Mizzou administrators are especially glad for the growth, since the campus has struggled in the national spotlight since the 2015 racial protests over equality and inclusion. Those protests caused tensions that eventually led to the resignations of the college's top two administrators---the school president and the chancellor.

Many of the Mizzou freshmen who spoke with KCTV5 said four years ago feels like a lifetime, and they're glad to have it in the rearview mirror.

"So I don't know much about it, and I'm here for the education," said Shelby Eastburn. "So I'm not letting anything get in my way."

A spokesperson for the university told KCTV5 they have a record-breaking retention rate this year, with 88 percent of students returning. University officials said it comes down to putting more money toward scholarships and research opportunities, along with support for recruitment tools in bigger areas such as Kansas City.

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