NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

A Drop in College Enrollment

September 13, 2013

The number of students pursuing college degrees of all sorts fell last year for the first time since 2006, reversing a multiyear pattern of growth, says the Wall Street Journal.

  • Overall, undergraduate- and graduate-school enrollment fell by about a half million to 19.9 million in 2012, according to the Census Bureau's annual school-enrollment report released recently.
  • The overall decline in college enrollment was driven by students age 25 and older. That group fell by 419,000 students from 2011, while enrollment of younger students dropped by 48,000.

However, the number of Hispanic college students hit an all-time high, a milestone that corresponds with an increase in the Hispanic share of the nation's population.

  •  The number of Hispanic students enrolled in college last year rose to 3.4 million, up 447,000 from 2011 to 2012.
  • Hispanics accounted for nearly 22 percent of students from preschool to adult education in 2012, up from 15.6 percent a decade earlier.

The collegiate student body overall has been getting more diverse:

  • The percentage of all college students who were Hispanic rose to 17 percent from 11 percent between 2006 and 2012.
  • The number of black students rose 1 percentage point to 15 percent, while non-Hispanic white students declined to 58 percent from 67 percent.

Other changes:

  • Foreign-born students or students whose parents were born outside the United States made up about a third of all students from preschool through college last year. That was up from 28.4 percent in 2002.
  • Fewer parents are sending their children to private schools. In 2012, there were 4.2 million students enrolled in private elementary, middle and high schools, down from 4.8 million in 2005.

Source: Sarah Portlock, "College Enrollment Falls for First Time Since '06," Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2013.


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