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Fall 2018 Overall Postsecondary Enrollments Decreased 1.7 Percent from Last Fall

by NSC Blog | Dec 13, 2018 | Current Term Enrollment, Research Reports, Research Services |

Research Center Releases Current Term Enrollment Estimates for the Nation and Each State

According to the Fall 2018 Current Term Enrollment Estimates from the National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™, overall postsecondary enrollments decreased 1.7 percent or more than 343,000 students from the previous fall. Fall enrollment decreased in every state except Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Virginia.

Enrollments decreased 15.1 percent among four-year for-profit institutions and 3.2 percent for two-year public institutions, and remained virtually unchanged at four-year public institutions. Public sector enrollment — two-year and four-year combined — declined by 1.3 percent this fall. Enrollments increased 2.4 percent at four-year private nonprofit institutions.

“This year’s results show the decline in first-time students (-4.3%) and traditional-age students (-2.5%) outpacing the decline in older students (-1.0%), for the first time since the end of the recession,” said Doug Shapiro, Executive Research Director, National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “As the shrinkage of high school graduating classes picks up speed and its effect takes over where that of falling unemployment rates left off, colleges and universities will continue to struggle to maintain enrollments.” 

Current Term Enrollment Estimates, published every December and May by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, include national enrollment estimates by institutional sector, state, enrollment intensity, age group, and gender.

As of fall 2018, postsecondary institutions actively submitting enrollment data to the Clearinghouse account for 97 percent of enrollments at U.S. Title IV, degree-granting institutions. Most institutions submit enrollment data to the Clearinghouse several times per term, resulting in highly current data.

Figure 1 below shows the 12-month percentage change (fall-to-fall and spring-to-spring) for each term over the last three years.

“This year’s results show the decline in first-time students (-4.3%) and traditional-age students (-2.5%) outpacing the decline in older students (-1.0%), for the first time since the end of the recession. As the shrinkage of high school graduating classes picks up speed and its effect takes over where that of falling unemployment rates left off, colleges and universities will continue to struggle to maintain enrollments.”

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

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