NAU welcomed over 8,000 students back to campus over the weekend. Click on the photo above to launch a slide show from the day’s actvities. Photos by Gretta Miller

Clean mountain air, a tight-knit academic community and a tuition Pledge have lured another record number of students to Flagstaff as Northern Arizona University welcomed its largest freshman class in school history this week.

Early reporting places the number of incoming students at 4,681 for the fall, up from 4,198 last year, an 11.5 percent increase. Overall enrollment on the Flagstaff campus also hit a record-high 19,120, increasing from 18,060 in 2012, nearly 6 percent.

It is the eighth consecutive year of record-setting enrollment, reflecting a trend that has increased the residential campus’s population by 6,000 students in the last decade.

“Students recognize that Northern Arizona University offers an exceptional residential educational experience in Flagstaff,” said NAU President John Haeger. “The university’s deep commitment to their success reverberates through first-year learning initiatives, student success programs and our 2NAU partnerships throughout the state.”

NAU’s class of 2017 hails from 38 states and boosts diversity on campus over last year’s freshman class. The number of African American and Latino students increased by 20 percent in the incoming freshman class, and Asian American students increased nearly 30 percent. NAU had an 8 percent increase in transfer students to 991 overall.

More than 43 percent of the new class is first-generation college students.

“Individuals continue to choose Northern Arizona University because it offers a high-quality education at a predictable price,” said David Bousquet, senior vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. “The Pledge, a program that guarantees the same tuition rate for four years, appeals to students and parents alike who arrive on campus to find a tight-knit community focused on student success.”

Though classes started Wednesday, Aug. 28, the Flagstaff campus has hosted new students and their parents throughout the summer. More than 1,000 parents and 900 students attended the last of 10 orientation sessions last week, with most of the 8,600 students who live on campus settled in to residence halls by Sunday. Nearly 45 percent of Flagstaff students live on campus and demand continues to increase. To keep up with enrollment, NAU has contracted with American Campus Communities to open its third and fourth residence halls next fall that will accommodate more than 300 students.

NAU prepared for a greater student population throughout campus, including a new wing that adds 13,000 square feet to the University Union. The space offers 250 additional seats for Hot Spot diners, a larger service and seating space for Starbucks and an expanded convenience store.

Official enrollment will be released 21 days after the start of classes. Preliminary fall enrollment as of Aug. 30, 2013:

Flagstaff
19,120

NAU-Yuma
546

NAU-Yavapai
104

Phoenix Biomedical Campus
100

Online
3,822

Extended Campuses
2,914

Total enrollment
26,502