Since the onset of the pandemic, institutions of higher education have recorded a 5.1% decline in enrollment, accounting for 938,000 students opting out of postsecondary programs.
Those numbers, recorded from fall 2019 through 2021, are a part of a newly published set of data from National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
According to the center’s fall 2021 Current Term Enrollment Estimates report, overall student enrollment saw a decline of 2.7%, which coupled with a drop of 2.5% from the preceding fall has exacerbated this worrying trend.
The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s previous reports captured similar concerns.
NEW from #NSClearinghouseResearch:— National Student Clearinghouse (@NSClearinghouse) January 13, 2022
Fall '21 undergrad enrollment down 465,300 students compared to Fall '20
Enrollment decline exceeds 1 million since Fall '19
Largest drops at public four-year institutions
Steepest % decline at private 4-yr collegeshttps://t.co/7W60GXPAGV pic.twitter.com/foYiTZ8Dhs
For the fall 2021 report, undergraduate enrollment alone fell by 3.1% — or 465,300 students over last year.
According to the report, every sector saw undergraduate enrollment drop. Public four-year institutions saw the largest numerical decline, accounting for a 3.8% drop, or 251,400 fewer students. The steepest percentage decline was recorded for private for-profit four-year colleges, which saw an 11.1% drop, or 65,500 fewer students.
Community colleges saw a smaller enrollment decline than the previous fall: 3.4%, or 161,800 fewer students. However, the number of associate degree-seeking students enrolled at four-year institutions fell much more steeply compared to the previous year. Public four-year institutions saw a decline of 11.%, private nonprofit four-year institutions saw a decline of 6.2%, and private for-profit four-year institutions reported a decline of 11.9%.
A minor brightspot in the data set is that freshman enrollment stabilized following steep declines in fall 2020, up about 0.4% or 8,100 students. According to the report, this was primarily driven by increases in private nonprofit four-year institutions.
Still, the freshmen class of 2021 has far from recovered from drops recorded in previous reports, with the current cohort being 9.2% smaller (or 213,400 fewer students) than pre-pandemic levels in fall 2019.
Publication Date: 1/18/2022