American higher education enrollment declines again

by VanessaVaile

Bryan Alexander

National Student Clearinghouse Research Center logoThe number of students enrolled in American colleges and universities declined this spring.  Recent data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC) depicts a gradually changing student body, with serious implications for post-secondary education.

In spring 2015 American campuses taught 18,592,605 people.  That’s a drop of 1.9% compared to spring 2014, which saw 18,948,521 students.  And a further from of 2.3% compared to 2013, which enrolled 19,105,651.

That decline is very unevenly distributed. Community colleges and for-profits saw the biggest hits, while private baccalaureates went down a slight amount and public four-years actually rose by a hair:

Estimated National Enrollment by Sector Spring 2015 columns are the light green ones, on the right of each sector’s data cluster.

There are some other interesting details about this report:

  • Adult learners were much more likely to avoid college than traditional-age students.  For example, those “24 and Under” went down by 0.8% overall, while their seniors dropped by…

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