Census Data: College Enrollment Decline Continues for Second Year

By Brittany Hackett, Communications Staff

College enrollment declined for the second year in a row, dropping by nearly half a million between 2012 and 2013, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau. 

The data, compiled in “School Enrollment in the United States: 2013,” was collected in the October School Enrollment Supplement to the 2013 Current Population Survey. The report details statistics and characteristics of U.S. students from nursery school to graduate school.

Overall, 78 million people – 25.9 percent of the U.S. population ages 3 and up – in 2013 were enrolled in school, including 19.5 million college students. Among college students, 5.3 million were enrolled in two-year colleges, 10.5 million were in four-year schools, and 3.7 million attended graduate school. Non-Hispanic white students comprised 58.2 percent of college students, followed by 16.5 percent for Hispanics, 14.7 percent for blacks, and 8.1 percent for Asians.

However, the Census Bureau also reported a 463,000 person decline in overall education enrollment between 2012 and 2013, equally divided between older and younger students. Combined with the nearly equal drop the year before, total enrollment has declined since 2011, making it the largest drop since before the recent recession.

Forty percent of 18 to 24 year-olds in fall 2013 were enrolled in college, a slight drop from 42 percent in 2011. Two-year colleges saw the largest decline in enrollment, declining by 10 percent from 2012 to 2013, compared with a 1 percent increase in enrollment at four-year colleges.

Following a five-year, one-million-student increase in enrollment, college enrollment among Hispanics did not grow between 2012 and 2013, nor did enrollment of black college students, which had seen a 500,000 increase in the previous five years. Asian enrollment in college also leveled off following a 340,000 increase in the previous five years.

Survey Results Break Down Enrollment By Institution Type

According to the survey data, a total of 19.5 million students 14 years or older were enrolled in college in October 2013, including 14.2 million full-time students and 5.2 million part-time students. Among full-time students: 

  • 1.6 million were in their first year at a two-year school and 1.9 million3 were in their second year or higher;
  • 2 million were in their first year at a four-year school and 6.6 million in their second year or higher; and
  • 811,000 were in their first year of graduate school and 1.3 million in their second year or higher.

Among part-time students:

  • 779,000 were in their first year at a two-year school and 1 million in their second year or higher;
  • 344,000 were in their first year at a four-year school and 1.5 million in their second year or higher; and 
  • 580,000 were in their first year of graduate school and 1 million in their second year or higher.

 

Publication Date: 9/29/2014


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