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Fall Enrollments Decline For 8th Consecutive Year

by NSC Blog | Dec 16, 2019 | Current Term Enrollment, Research Reports, Research Services |

For the First Time This Decade, Unduplicated Count Falls Below 18 Million

In fall 2019, overall postsecondary enrollments decreased 1.3 percent or more than 231,000 students from the previous fall to 17.9 million students, according to the Fall 2019 Current Term Enrollment Estimates report by the National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™. For the first time in the decade, the nation’s fall unduplicated enrollments fell below 18 million students and declined by more than 2 million students.

Florida led declines with a drop of 52,328 students while 15 states saw increases in enrollment, especially those in the South and the West. Utah led the nation with an increase of nearly 16,800 students or a 4.9% growth from last year.

The Fall 2019 report shows the following enrollment declines from fall 2018:

  • Public four-year institutions’ enrollment dropped by 97,426 students or 1.2%;
  • Public two-year institutions declined by 77,092 students or 1.4%;
  • Private nonprofit four-year institutions fell by 22,027 students or 0.6%; and
  • Private for-profit four-year institutions decreased by 15,711 students or 2.1%.

“With every institutional sector experiencing enrollment declines this fall, the higher education industry has now shed more than 2 million students since its peak in 2011 and the unduplicated count has fallen below 18 million for the first time. Most of the pain hits the Midwest and Northeast, even as some states in the South and West saw modest growth,” said Doug Shapiro, Executive Research Director, National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Additional report data include:

  • Over the last four years, the average age of full-time, undergraduate students dropped from 22.3 to 21.8 years old;
  • Public two-year institutions saw an increase for the second fall in a row of dual-enrolled students under age 18 (36,660 or 5.9% increase);
  • First-time enrollments of ages 18-24 decreased at all institutions except public two-year institutions while those over 24 decreased at all institutions;
  • Enrollment at large private nonprofit four-year institutions grew 2.7% while those with less than 10,000 students enrolled declined; and
  • Approximately 159,000 fewer men and nearly 84,000 fewer women are enrolled compared to fall 2018.

Top states with largest enrollment declines by number of students:

Florida (-52,328), New York (-19,386), California (-19,272), Missouri (-14,869), and Pennsylvania (-14,799)

Top states with largest enrollment decreases by percentage change:

Alaska (-10.6%), Florida (-5.3%), Arkansas (-4.9%), Missouri (-4.4%), Vermont (-4.4%), and Wyoming (-4.4%)

States with enrollment increases:

Arizona (1.8%), Delaware (0.3%), Georgia (1.5%), Kentucky (1.5%), Louisiana (0.6%), Mississippi (0.3%), Nebraska (0.4%), Nevada (0.3%), New Hampshire (3.4%), North Carolina (0.6%), Rhode Island (0.3%), South Carolina (0.1%), Tennessee (0.6%), Texas (0.3%), and Utah (4.9%).

Estimated National Enrollment by Institutional Sector: 2017 to 2019

“With every institutional sector experiencing enrollment declines this fall, the higher education industry has now shed more than 2 million students since its peak in 2011 and the unduplicated count has fallen below 18 million for the first time. Most of the pain hits the Midwest and Northeast, even as some states in the South and West saw modest growth.”

Doug Shapiro
Executive Director, National Student Clearinghouse Research Center

 

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