Students talk outside Luther Bonney Hall at the University of Southern Maine's Portland campus in this BDN file photo.

University of Southern Maine has seen a significant jump in overall enrollment, graduate student numbers and credit hours, school officials announced Thursday.

The university — with campuses in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston — has a student population above 8,000 for the first time in recent years, reaching about 8,140, according to the latest figures released by the school.

[Maine university considers changing its name]

The latest enrollment numbers represent a big turnaround for a school that, just three years ago, had named its fifth president in four years and had seen student numbers drop as the school made faculty and program cuts to stabilize its budget.

Now, USM is looking at a 5.18 percent increase in overall student enrollment since the fall of 2015, a 10.1 percent increase in the number of graduate students, and a 7.1 percent increase in credit hours.

“Our enrollment increase reflects a growing recognition that USM offers a first-class education and that we are a community engaged institution ensuring job-ready graduates to meet the critical workforce needs of our state,” said President Glenn Cummings, who took the job in mid-2015.

[Map collection worth an estimated $100M donated to USM]

“It further reflects our commitment to being student focused every day, and to offer a welcoming and supportive environment to all who choose to enroll here,” he continued.

Included in the overall increase is a 5.1 percent increase in students from Maine, who are gravitating toward courses in business and nursing, according to the school.

Nancy Davis Griffin, USM’s vice president for enrollment management & student affairs, said the growth can be attributed in part to financial aid packages available for prospective students.

Because of the jump in student numbers, the university has begun putting three residents in some dormitory rooms originally intended for two, and six residents in rooms originally intended for four.

Follow BDN Portland on Facebook for the latest news from Greater Portland.

Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.