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Enrollment Decreases Continue: Spring 2019 Enrollment Down 300,000

by NSC Blog | May 30, 2019 | Current Term Enrollment, Research Reports, Research Services, StudentTracker |

Florida and Illinois Lead the Nation in Declining Enrollments

In spring 2019, overall postsecondary enrollments decreased 1.7 percent, or nearly 300,000 students from the previous spring, according to a new report by the National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™. Florida and Illinois lead the nation in declining enrollments, based on the change in numbers and percent. There are more than 17.5 million undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled in the United States.

The Spring 2019 Current Term Enrollment Estimates report shows that two-year public institutions declined 3.4 percent and four-year public institutions dropped 0.9 percent. As a whole, public sector enrollment (two-year and four-year combined) declined 1.9 percent over the past year.

Enrollments at four-year private nonprofit institutions increased by more than 116,000 students or 3.2 percent. However, as reported in the 2018 fall term report, this was largely because of the conversion of a large for-profit institution to nonprofit status. Enrollments decreased 19.7 percent among four-year for-profit institutions.

“Colleges and universities in many regions continue to struggle from the combined effects of a strong job market and smaller numbers of high school graduates,” said Doug Shapiro, Executive Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “Growth in the numbers of graduate and professional students has not been large enough to make up for the declines in undergraduates in recent years.”

Additional report data points to know:

  • Graduate enrollment increased two percent or 54,000 students across all types of institutions, while undergraduates declined 2.3 percent or 351,000 students;
  • Enrollment by those under age 18 increased at all types of institutions, except at four-year for-profits, and increased for the third consecutive year at two-year public institutions;
  • Enrollment by those over age 24 decreased for the third consecutive year; and
  • Approximately 212,000 fewer men and 85,000 fewer women are enrolled compared to spring 2018.

Top states with largest enrollment decrease by number of students:

Florida -48,363
California -44,940
Illinois -30,466
Michigan -17,278
Pennsylvania -16,853

Top states with largest enrollment decrease by percent change:

Alaska -5.2%
Florida -5.2%
Illinois -5.0%
N. Dakota -4.5%
Hawaii -4.2%
Kansas -4.2%

Current Term Enrollment Estimates, published every December and May, include postsecondary enrollment estimates by institutional sector, state, enrollment intensity, age group, and gender, postsecondary institutions actively submitting data to the Clearinghouse. These institutions account for 97 percent of the nation’s enrollments at Title IV eligible, degree-granting institutions. In addition, because the Clearinghouse receives data at the student level, an unduplicated headcount is also reported, avoiding double-counting of students concurrently enrolled in more than one institution.

Estimated National Enrollment by Sector (Title IV, Degree-Granting Institutions)

“Colleges and universities in many regions continue to struggle from the combined effects of a strong job market and smaller numbers of high school graduates.”

Doug Shapiro
Executive Research Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center

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