New Research: Fall Undergraduate Enrollment Showed Signs of Stabilizing in 2022
Freshmen up 4.3%, including 6.1% at Community Colleges
According to a new report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, fall undergraduate enrollment has begun to stabilize in 2022, contracting only by 0.6% or about 94,000 students, compared to fall 2021. However, postsecondary enrollment remains well below pre-pandemic levels, down about 1.23 million undergraduates and 1.11 million total enrollment, both undergraduate and graduate, compared to fall 2019.
Undergraduate enrollment was essentially flat at community colleges (+0.4%, +16,700 students) and private nonprofit four-years (-0.1% or -2,500 students), following the previous year’s declines (-6.7% and -1.6%, respectively). Fall enrollment declines in the public four-year sector were larger, dropping another 1.4%, or 88,000 students. Private for-profit four-year institutions added 29,000 more students or +5.0% from fall 2021.
Meanwhile, graduate enrollment has fared more poorly. Fall graduate enrollment decreased by 39,000 students or 1.2% after two consecutive years of strong growth (+3.0% in 2020; +2.4% in 2021). This suggests that the pandemic-led influxes of post-baccalaureate enrollment has ended.
“It is encouraging to start seeing signs of a recovery in the numbers of new freshmen,” said Doug Shapiro, Executive Director, National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “Although freshmen classes are still well below pre-pandemic levels, especially at community colleges, the fact that they are swinging upward in all sectors is a positive indicator for the future.”
New research in this expanded edition addresses:
- Race and Ethnicity
- Institutional Selectivity
- Primarily Associate Degree Granting Baccalaureate Institutions
- State Data
- Dashboard Report
The CTEE Report Series provides national enrollment estimates by institutional sector, enrollment intensity, age group, gender, major field, and state. See the report’s methodological notes for more details.
The CTEE Expanded Edition report is supported in part by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through grant R305X220022 to Teachers College, Columbia University. This project is part of the Accelerating Recovery in Community Colleges (ARCC) Network. The opinions expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.
Annual Percent Change in Total Fall Enrollment by Sector, 2018-2022
“Although freshmen classes are still well below pre-pandemic levels, especially at community colleges, the fact that they are swinging upward in all sectors is a positive indicator for the future.”
Executive Director, National Student Clearinghouse Research Center