University of South Florida


A photo from inside the Marshall Student Center with a sign welcoming new students

Despite COVID-19, University of South Florida sustains strong enrollment and welcomes its highest-achieving freshman class

Prospective college students from across the United States and the world continue to take note of the University of South Florida's growing reputation as one of the nation's top public universities and one of Florida’s three Preeminent research universities.

This fall, USF welcomes its most academically accomplished incoming freshman class with an average SAT score of 1312 (up from 1286 last year), placing USF in the 87th percentile, and a high school GPA of 4.18 (up from 4.13 last year). Included in this year’s class are more than 705 freshmen entering the Judy Genshaft Honors College, who averaged a 1409 SAT and a high school GPA of 4.37, representing significant increases over the prior year.

Combined, the summer and fall entering freshman cohort is 5,848, or 4.6% larger than last year, and includes 36 National Merit Scholars and 14 National Hispanic Scholars enrolled across campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee. USF's summer 2020 term achieved the highest summer enrollment in USF's history as the university welcomed a total of 33,326 students (up 1,914 or 6.1% from summer 2019), with 50,830 students (down by 97 or 0.2% from fall 2019) enrolled in fall 2020.   

Consistent with USF's deep commitment to diversity and inclusion, Black freshman enrollment is up by 1.3% from last year, Asian student enrollment has grown by nearly 8.8% and Hispanic student enrollment is up by almost 18%, with 5.5% more international freshmen enrolled. USF currently leads all state universities in performance-based funding metrics and continues to receive national recognition as a leader in student success, including graduating under-represented minority and limited-income students at rates equal to or higher than white and higher income students. USF President Steve Currall recently announced a series of actions, including additional initiatives to support future recruitment of minority students.

"USF's national reputation for meaningful research, academic excellence and student success continues to attract exceptionally talented students," Currall said. "This is a challenging time, but USF is working hard to provide our students with a transformative educational experience that addresses current needs and helps our students achieve their academic and career goals."

While COVID-19 has led to significant enrollment declines at many other colleges and universities across the country, USF’s fall 2020 total credit hour enrollment increased 1.2% over last year. With summer 2020 credit hours increasing 9.9% from the prior year, USF is off to a strong start to the academic year with summer and fall enrollment running 3.4% ahead of last year.

One innovative approach USF used to encourage new and continuing students to enroll full-time and stay on a timely path to graduation was an unprecedented $20 million scholarship and tuition waiver program. In recognition of the financial hardships brought on by COVID-19, this investment of institutional funds was designed to help students avoid having to make difficult decisions about their educational futures.

"USF is honored that the best and the brightest students from across the nation and around the globe are selecting the University of South Florida as their academic home," said Ralph Wilcox, USF provost and executive vice president. "During these uncertain and challenging times, it has taken an extraordinary effort on the part of many dedicated professionals to arrive where we are today. We have adopted flexible approaches to meet our talented students where they are and we remain committed to our principles of student access and success, while providing a rigorous and relevant academic experience delivered by world-class faculty and supported by an outstanding team of higher education professionals."

The fall enrollment data included are as of the end of the first week of classes, which is the deadline to drop/add courses for the semester, and the preliminary benchmark for summer 2020.

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