Austin neighbor booms as 4th fastest-growing U.S. college town, report says
Austin might be one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., but there's one Central Texas city that's outdoing the state capital. A new study by university scholarship website BrokeScholar has deemed San Marcos the No. 4 fastest-growing college town in the country.
San Marcos' population in 2000 was 36,120; in 2023 the population has nearly doubled to 70,372. For scale, U.S. News and World Report says Texas State University had an undergraduate enrollment of 33,175 in the fall of 2021.
It's not just a university or its enrollment that attracts newcomers, the study says, but the "cultural oasis" that the college towns maintain.
"These collegiate strongholds benefit from an influx of new residents eager to enjoy a good football game and an existing mix of music, culture, and young energy," the report's author wrote.
San Marcos is a hub for cultural growth, with its community of local artists and countless recreational activities. A popular kayak tour along the San Marcos River won a Texas Travel Award earlier this year for the best outdoor activity.
BrokeScholar estimates the city's population to expand to over 86,000 people by 2030, and nearly 154,000 people by 2050.
Austin surprisingly came in at No. 22 for the fastest-growing college towns, despite hosting four major universities: The University of Texas at Austin, St. Edward's University, Huston-Tillotson University, and Concordia University Texas.
The report further indicates the growth trends are so strong in Central Texas that an educational "mega-region" is surfacing, confirming earlier reports of the area between Austin and San Antonio becoming the next mega-metro that could rival Dallas-Fort Worth in the future.
Also in the top 10 is Denton, north of Dallas-Fort Worth, ranking No. 6 with an overall population of 160,564 residents. College Station earned No. 8 with an overall population of 123,238 in 2023, with an estimate growth of 19 percent to 147,126 residents by 2030.
The top 10 fastest-growing college towns in the U.S. are:
- No. 1 – Bozeman, Montana
- No. 2 – Oxford, Mississippi
- No. 3 – Cedar City, Utah
- No. 4 – San Marcos, Texas
- No. 5 – Auburn, Alabama
- No. 6 – Denton, Texas
- No. 7 – Cullowhee, North Carolina
- No. 8 – College Station, Texas
- No. 9 – Fayetteville, Arkansas
- No. 10 – Raleigh, North Carolina
BrokeScholar pulled data from the U.S. Census Bureau between 2000 and 2023 to determine annual growth rates and make population projections for 2030.
The full report and its methodology can be found on brokescholar.com.