There is a record number of students at Appalachian State University this fall, and school leaders are hoping to hit a big milestone next year.

Chancellor Sheri Everts says the goal for 2020 is to have an enrollment of 20,000 students.

The Watauga Democrat newspaper says it would take about 700 additional students to hit that mark. 

Everts's comments came during a quarterly meeting of university trustees where she discussed enrollment and retention numbers. She said continued growth is vital to the university's financial stability.

The university has also boosted its number of rural students and says the student body is more racially and ethnically diverse than it has ever been.

Students are not just coming to App State in high numbers, but they're also staying. About 88 percent of first-year students returned. That's the third-highest retention rate in the UNC system.

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