Undergraduate Enrollment Has Dropped By Nearly 8%

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Undergraduate enrollment in the United States is plummeting after COVID-19 and the lockdown-induced recession.

According to a report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, 7.8% fewer students are now participating in undergraduate programs, with public two-year schools and private for-profit four-year schools seeing the most significant declines:

Roughly two months into the second fall semester of the pandemic, postsecondary enrollment is now running 2.6 percent below last year’s level, for a total 5.8 percent drop since 2019. Undergraduate enrollment declined 3.5 percent from last fall or 7.8 percent from fall 2019. Graduate enrollment grew 2.1 percent, maintaining the upward trend from last fall (+2.7%), for a total 4.9 percent growth since 2019.

Undergraduate enrollment continued to trend downward across all sectors, with the steepest drops in the private for-profit four-year and public two-year institutions. Undergraduate female students declined slightly more than males (-4.1% and -3.4%, respectively). Continued enrollment losses among traditional college-age students (18-24) remain concerning (-2.6% for 18-20 and -3.3% for 21-24).


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