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College Enrollment Down Once Again

College Enrollment Down Once Again

by NSC Blog | Dec 23, 2015 | Current Term Enrollment, Research Reports, Research Services |

Enrollment Falls 1.7 Percent from Last Fall, Older Students Still Driving Decline

Fall postsecondary enrollments continue to decline, according to the recently released Fall Current Term Enrollment Estimates from the National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™. College enrollments in fall 2015 totaled just under 19.3 million, down 1.7 percent compared to fall 2014. As in each of the last three years, the bulk of this fall’s decline is among students over the age of 24, whose numbers fell by 308,000 (-4.3 percent).

“These improvements, however small, are good news for the education system. We recovered some of the ground that was lost over the last few years and see more students persisting. It suggests that students are entering college a little bit better prepared, and that colleges are doing a better job of keeping them on a path to graduation.”

Doug Shapiro
Executive Research Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center

Additional report findings include:

  • Most of this fall’s decline took place at two-year public institutions (-2.4 percent) and four-year for-profit institutions (-13.7 percent).
  • Students over the age of 24 represented 36 percent of the total fall 2015 enrollments, but accounted for 91 percent of the decline from fall 2014.
  • Two-year public institutions lost 145,000 enrollments this year, down 423,000 from fall 2013. Students over the age of 24 accounted for 89 percent of this decline.

To learn more, see the figure below and the entire report: Current Term Enrollment Estimates – Fall 2015, which includes enrollment data for each state from fall 2013 to fall 2015.

Percent Change from Previous Year, Enrollment by Sector
(Title IV, Degree-Granting Institutions)

Fall 2015 - Percent Change from Previous Year, Enrollment by Sector


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