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College Enrollments Decrease for Second Straight Year; State-by-State Figures Included

Trend Varies by Institution Type, According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center

HERNDON, VA, DEC. 12, 2013 – The National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center reports a continuing trend of further decline in college enrollments for the fall term 2013, compared to fall 2012. Total enrollments in U.S. degree-granting institutions fell by 1.5% in fall 2013, after having declined by 1.8% last year. This is also in line with decreasing enrollments in spring 2013, which were reported in May. Results vary by institution type, however, with slight increases in four-year public institutions and private, nonprofit institutions.

In the Fall 2013 Current Term Enrollment Estimates, the largest declines took place among four-year for-profit institutions at -9.7 percent, followed by two year public institutions at -3.1 percent, compared to fall 2012.

Published every December and May, the Current Term Enrollment Estimates are based on postsecondary institutions actively submitting data to the Clearinghouse, accounting for 96 percent of enrollments at U.S. Title IV, degree-granting institutions. The data is highly current, as it is submitted several times per term. In addition, since the Clearinghouse collects data at the student level, as opposed to the institutional level, an unduplicated headcount is reported, avoiding double-counting of students enrolled in more than one institution.

Findings from the report include:

  • Total unduplicated student count is now at 19.5 million, down from 20.1 million two years ago.
  • Enrollments increased slightly among four-year public institutions (+0.3%) and four-year private nonprofit institutions (+1.3%).
  • Decreases were seen in all regions, with the largest having occurred in the Midwest (-2.6%).
  • Decreases were larger for students over the age of 24 (-3.4%) than for students 24 and under (-0.4%). This represents 260,000 fewer adults over 24 in college today than one year ago.
  • Overall decreases among women (-1.8%) were slightly larger than for men (-1.1%), although results vary by institutional sector.
  • Only 10 states saw enrollment increases, topped by West Virginia (7.8%) and New Hampshire (12.9%).

“Our second Fall Current Term Enrollment Estimates report, and third report overall, shows a continuing downward trend in enrollments,” stated Dr. Doug Shapiro, Executive Research Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “As the number of high school graduates declines and adults re-enter the workforce, we could see this trend continue, despite efforts to increase college access and attainment. These new data will help education practitioners to understand the effects that shifting demographics and a changing economy have on students and institutions.”

About the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center
The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center is the research arm of the National Student Clearinghouse. The Research Center collaborates with higher education institutions, states, school districts, high schools, and educational organizations as part of a national effort to better inform education leaders and policymakers. Through accurate longitudinal data outcomes reporting, the Research Center enables better educational policy decisions leading to improved student outcomes. To learn more, visit http://research.studentclearinghouse.org.

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