College enrollment down third year in a row

Inna D

Fall undergraduate student enrollment has fell for the third straight year, according to a report from National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

The data is based on 10.3 million undergraduate and graduate students, as reported by 63% of Title IV degree-granting institutions that are participating in the Clearinghouse as of September 29, 2022.

Total undergraduate and graduate enrollment combined declined 1.1% over last fall, leading to a total two-year decline of 3.2% since 2020. It has declined to pre-pandemic rates.

Doug Shapiro, Executive Director, National Student Clearinghouse Research Center had this to say,

“After two straight years of historically large losses, it is particularly troubling that numbers are still falling, especially among freshmen. Although the decline has slowed and there are some bright spots, a path back to pre-pandemic enrollment levels is growing further out of reach.”

Here are the main points from the report:

  • Freshmen enrollment declined by 1.5% overall, with numbers dropping in all four-year sectors
  • Highly selective institutions saw the largest drop in freshmen enrollment, with a 5.6% decline compared to a 10.7% gain in fall 2021
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities and primary online institutions were among the few category of schools to see an enrollment increase
  • HBCU's enrollment grew 2.5% this fall and at primarily online institutions, undergraduate enrollment grew by 3.2% from last fall, per the report
  • Community colleges saw the smallest declines in enrollment, posting a 0.4% enrollment loss compared to fall 2021


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