Undergraduate enrollment has gone down in U.S. universities, according to recent numbers released to an educational research center, with public two-year schools and private for-profit four-year schools seeing the biggest declines.
Going into the second fall semester since the pandemic, there has been a decrease of 2.6 percent in postsecondary enrollment, a 3.5 percent reduction in undergraduate enrollment, and a 2.1 percent increase in graduate enrollment, based on the data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. There has been a decline of 7.8 percent in undergraduate enrollment since 2019.
“Today’s data are largely consistent with last month’s report,” Doug Shapiro, executive director of the research center, said in a press release. “And with more schools counted, the continued downward trends raise even more troubling concerns for students and institutions struggling to recover from the first pandemic year.”
Undergraduate male enrollment went down 3.4 percent, but female enrollment declined further by 4.1 percent. There were 2.6 percent fewer 18- to 20-year-olds lining up to get into colleges, and among 21- to 24-year-olds, the number was again lower by 3.3 percent.
For people from a slightly older age group, 25 to 29, undergraduate registrations fell by nine percent this year, compared to 5.1 in 2020. Freshman enrollment saw 13.1 percent declines since 2019, 2.7 percent from last fall.
According to the survey, enrollments declined for all undergraduate sectors. Public four-year enrollments went down 2.5 percent, compared to 1.6 percent last fall, while private for-profit four-year institutions registered 8.5 percent fewer students, compared to 2.6 percent last fall. Student registrations in community colleges continued to fall, and are now 14.8 percent lower since 2019.
White, black, and Native American students faced a decline of five to six percent, while Asian students went down by 2.2 percent, and Latino students by 2.8 percent.
Despite falling enrollments in most majors, registrations for bachelor’s degrees in computer and information sciences along with psychology saw growth of 3.3 and 2.6 percent respectively. Students opting for a master’s in computer sciences, biological studies, or engineering also saw an increase of 19.9, 9.5, and 9.7 percent respectively.
The recently updated figures, released on Nov. 18, were collected from 74 percent of more than 3,600 Title IV degree-granting institutions that participated in the Clearinghouse research survey as of Oct. 21. Altogether, the numbers reflect the status of around 13.7 million undergraduate and graduate students, representing 97 percent of the postsecondary enrollment.
State of Colleges
In the country, 41 out of 46 states saw drops in undergraduate enrollments when compared to last fall, with Mississippi, Indiana, New Mexico, and California bearing the brunt. Forty states saw positive growths in graduate enrollments, including Maine, Massachusetts, Georgia, and Florida.
Based on numbers from Clearinghouse, highly selective private nonprofit institutions saw an enrollment growth of 5.2 percent this year, while fewer students joined less selective institutions.
Many schools have recently shut down because of fewer registrations and the resulting loss in revenue. Bloomfield College in New Jersey, founded in 1868, may be forced to close shop after the current academic year.
“Bloomfield College has been struggling with a decade-long decline in enrollment,” Bloomfield’s president Marcheta Evans said in a letter to the community, reported CNBC. “The resulting financial challenges have only been exacerbated by the pandemic.”
Along with Bloomfield, Concordia College in New York, Becker College in Massachusetts, and Judson College in Alabama are also planning to close, Evans added.
However, the country’s elite colleges like Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Princeton have reported a record-breaking number of new applications and an incredible increase in revenue, mostly from endowments invested in private equity and venture capital funds. Harvard University leads the list with almost $40 billion endowments as of 2019, based on data from the National Association of College and University Business Officers as well as the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America.