Our sister station WLBK reports that student enrollment at Northern Illinois University has slipped below 17,000, but there are more freshmen this year.

The university says enrollment this fall fell 3.3 percent from last year to about 16,600.

That number includes nearly 11,900 undergrads at the DeKalb campus, down 4.7 percent from last year; just over 3,000 on-campus grad students, up 11 percent; and 274 law students, up by 14 students.

Enrollment has been falling for over a decade and this year’s decline was anticipated in the Strategic Enrollment Plan put out by the university early this year.

That plan has a goal of stabilizing and increasing enrollment to nearly 18,000 students by 2023.

NIU officials say they saw signs in the new numbers that the enrollment plan is working.

NIU President Lisa Freeman says the 10-day enrollment report affirms the plan’s analysis and strategies are succeeding in attracting excellent students from diverse backgrounds.

New freshmen are up 2.2 percent to nearly 1,900 and the average GPA of the freshman class increased from 3.31 last year to 3.36 this year.

The university says the new class is more diverse with more than half of all freshmen and transfers coming from traditionally underrepresented groups.