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Enrollment and Transfer Research Reveals COVID-19’s Impact

by NSC Blog | Jun 16, 2021 | Current Term Enrollment, Research Reports, Research Services, Signature Reports |

Persistence and Retention Report to be Released July 7

COVID-19’s impact on colleges and universities nationwide is solidifying, according to the 2021 Spring Current Term Enrollment Estimates and the COVID-19 Transfer, Mobility, and Progress: Final Look Spring 2021 Report.

This spring’s overall college enrollment fell to 16.9 million students from 17.5 million, marking a one-year decline of 3.5% or 603,000 students. This is seven times worse than the decline a year earlier, and the largest decline in year-over-year percent change and student headcount since spring 2011, which is the first year the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center published enrollment data. The second steepest enrollment decline was recorded in Fall 2020.

Community colleges continue to be hit hardest by the pandemic, regardless of student group, gender, race, and ethnicity, or age, while public four-year institutions remain the least affected among all sectors.

At community colleges, transfer enrollment declined 16.3% this spring, a two-fold increase over last year’s decline of 8%. The decline among non-transfer students was also steep at 13%. White, Black, Latinx, and Asian transfer enrollment all worsened at community colleges, while they each fared better at public four-year colleges compared to their pre-pandemic transfer trends.

This semester marks the steepest year-over-year decline in overall transfer enrollment since the pandemic began, with a 10% drop over last spring in the number of students who changed institutions from their most recent prior enrollment. As a comparison, non-transfer students declined by only 6.5%,” said Doug Shapiro, Executive Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

“How long (the pandemic’s severe) impact lasts will depend on how many of the missing students, particularly at community colleges, will be able to make their way back to school for the coming fall,” he also said.

The Research Center plans to release on July 7 the next Persistence and Retention report. The Persistence and Retention report series examines first-year persistence and retention rates for beginning postsecondary students.

Read the Research Center’s other reports to learn more!

Community colleges continue to be hit hardest by the pandemic, regardless of student group, gender, race, and ethnicity, or age, while public four-year institutions remain the least affected among all sectors.

 

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