Fall 2021 Undergraduate Enrollment Declines 465,300 Students Compared to Fall 2020
Undergraduate Enrollment Declines Exceed 1 Million Since Fall 2019
Compared to fall 2020, total undergraduate enrollment declined by 3.1% or 465,300 students, for a total two-year decline during the COVID-19 pandemic of 6.6%, or 1,025,600 students since fall 2019, according to a new report released today by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
Nationwide, more than 17 million students enrolled in colleges and universities in fall 2021. Meanwhile, total fall enrollment increased in only four states: Arizona, Colorado, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.
The number of students seeking associate degrees, which fell by 6.2% this year, accounts for 713,000 of the undergraduate decline since 2019, a 14.1% drop over two years. Bachelor’s degree seekers fell by 3% this year, and have now fallen by 3.9% since 2019, a two-year decline of 333,900. Graduate student enrollment declined 0.4% or 10,800 this year.
“Our final look at fall 2021 enrollment shows undergraduates continuing to sit out in droves as colleges navigate yet another year of COVID-19,” said Doug Shapiro, Executive Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “Without a dramatic re-engagement in their education, the potential loss to these students’ earnings and futures is significant, which will greatly impact the nation as a whole in years to come.”
Undergraduate enrollment declined across all institution sectors, with private for-profit four-year colleges suffering the steepest percentage drop (-11.1% or 65,500 students) and public four-year institutions losing the largest number of students (251,400 or -3.8%) compared to the previous year. Private nonprofit four-year enrollment decreased by 2.2% or 58,700 students this fall. Enrollment declines at community colleges this fall totaled -3.4% or 161,800 students.
“Without a dramatic re-engagement in their education, the potential loss to these students’ earnings and futures is significant, which will greatly impact the nation as a whole in years to come.”
Executive Director, National Student Clearinghouse Research Center