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Spring 2015 Sees Decline in Student Enrollment

Spring 2015 Sees Decline in Student Enrollment

by NSC Blog | May 13, 2015 | Current Term Enrollment, Research Reports, Research Services |

Enrollment Falls 1.9 Percent from Last Spring, Mostly among Older Students

Spring postsecondary enrollments declined in 2015, according to the Spring Term Enrollment Estimates from the National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center. College enrollments in spring 2015 totaled just under 18.6 million, down 1.9 percent compared to spring 2014. As in each of the last three years, the bulk of this spring’s decline is among students over the age of 24, whose numbers fell by 264,000 (-3.6 percent).

Most of this spring’s decline took place at two-year public institutions (-3.9 percent) and four-year for-profit institutions (-4.9 percent), compared to last spring. Two-year public institutions lost nearly a quarter of a million enrollments this year, and are down 415,000 from spring 2013. Students over the age of 24 account for three-quarters of this decline. Enrollment of men declined at a slightly higher rate than women (-2.1 percent compared to -1.7 percent).

 

“Our enrollment data continue to show that adults over age 24 are leaving college and returning to the workforce, in line with the steady declines in the unemployment rate. Traditional-age students, by contrast, are staying enrolled, even at the more expensive four-year institutions.”

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

“Despite recent reports about students’ concerns over rising costs and whether college is still worth it, these figures suggest, to the contrary, that the improving national employment picture remains the dominant influence on enrollments,” stated Doug Shapiro, Executive Research Director of the Research Center. “Our enrollment data continue to show that adults over age 24 are leaving college and returning to the workforce, in line with the steady declines in the unemployment rate. Traditional-age students, by contrast, are staying enrolled, even at the more expensive four-year institutions.”

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. Enrollment estimates are adjusted for Clearinghouse data coverage rates by institutional sector, state, and year. As of spring 2015, postsecondary institutions actively submitting enrollment data to the Clearinghouse account for over 96 percent of enrollments at U.S. Title IV, degree-granting institutions.

 

Percent Change from Previous Year, Enrollment by Sector

Current Term Enrollment Estimates

Enrollments decreased among four-year for-profit institutions (-4.9 percent), two-year public institutions (-3.9 percent), and four-year private non-profit institutions (-0.2 percent). Enrollments increased slightly among four-year public institutions (+0.1 percent).

 

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