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Indicators

Immediate College Enrollment Rate
(Last Updated: March 2015)

The immediate college enrollment rate increased from 60 percent in 1990 to 66 percent in 2013; however, this rate has decreased in recent years—down from 70 percent in 2009. In 2013, the immediate college enrollment rate for high school completers from high-income families (80 percent) was 31 percentage points higher than the rate for those from low-income families (49 percent). The 2013 gap between high school completers from high- and low-income families did not measurably differ from the corresponding gap in 1990 (30 percentage points).

Of the 3.0 million high school completers in 2013, some 2.0 million, or 66 percent, enrolled in college the following fall. This rate, known as the immediate college enrollment rate, is defined as the annual percentage of high school completers (including GED recipients) who enroll in 2- or 4-year colleges in the fall immediately after completing high school. The immediate college enrollment rate increased from 60 percent in 1990 to 66 percent in 2013; however, this rate has decreased in recent years—down from 70 percent in 2009. The rate did not change measurably between 2012 (66 percent) and 2013.


Figure 1. Percentage of high school completers who were enrolled in 2- or 4-year colleges by the October immediately following high school completion, by level of institution: 1990–2013

Figure 1. Percentage of high school completers who were enrolled in 2- or 4-year colleges by the October immediately following high school completion, by level of institution: 1990–2013


NOTE: High school completers include GED recipients.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October Supplement, 1990–2013. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 302.10.


In each year between 1990 and 2013, the immediate college enrollment rate at 4-year colleges was higher than that at 2-year colleges. For example, in 2013, the immediate college enrollment rate at 4-year colleges was 42 percent, compared with 24 percent at 2-year colleges. The immediate college enrollment rate of high school completers at 2-year colleges in 2013 (24 percent) did not differ significantly from the corresponding rate in 1990 (20 percent). The rate fluctuated between 20 and 25 percent in the 1990s, increased from 21 percent in 2000 to 29 percent in 2012, and then decreased 5 percentage points between 2012 and 2013. At 4-year colleges, the immediate college enrollment rate in 2013 (42 percent) was not measurably different from the rate in 1990 or 2000 (40 and 42 percent, respectively), nor was the rate in 2013 measurably different from that in 2012 (37 percent).


Figure 2. Percentage of high school completers who were enrolled in 2- or 4-year colleges by the October immediately following high school completion, by sex: 1990–2013

Figure 2. Percentage of high school completers who were enrolled in 2- or 4-year colleges by the October immediately following high school completion, by sex: 1990–2013


NOTE: High school completers include GED recipients.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October Supplement, 1990–2013. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 302.10.


The immediate college enrollment rate for male high school completers in 1990 (58 percent) was not measurably different from the corresponding rate in 2013 (64 percent), while the rate for female high school completers increased from 62 to 68 percent during this time. In 2013, there was no significant difference between male and female immediate college enrollment rates.


Figure 3. Percentage of high school completers who were enrolled in 2- or 4-year colleges by the October immediately following high school completion, by family income: 1990–2013

Figure 3. Percentage of high school completers who were enrolled in 2- or 4-year colleges by the October immediately following high school completion, by family income: 1990–2013


NOTE: Due to some short-term data fluctuations associated with small sample sizes, percentages for income groups were calculated based on 3-year moving averages, except in 2013, when estimates were calculated based on 2-year moving averages. High school completers include GED recipients. Low income refers to the bottom 20 percent of all family incomes, high income refers to the top 20 percent of all family incomes, and middle income refers to the 60 percent in between.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October Supplement, 1990–2013. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 302.30.


In each year from 1990 to 2013, the immediate college enrollment rate for high school completers from high-income families was higher than the rates for their peers from low- and middle-income families.1 In 2013, the immediate college enrollment rate for high school completers from high-income families (80 percent) was 31 percentage points higher than the rate for those from low-income families (49 percent) and 15 percentage points higher than the rate for those from middle-income families (64 percent). The gap between the immediate college enrollment rates of high school completers from high- and low-income families in 2013 (31 percentage points) did not measurably differ from the corresponding gap in 1990 (30 percentage points). Similarly, the gap between the immediate college enrollment rates of high school completers from high- and middle-income families in 2013 (15 percentage points) was not measurably different from the corresponding gap in 1990 (19 percentage points).


Figure 4. Percentage of high school completers who were enrolled in 2- or 4-year colleges by the October immediately following high school completion, by race/ethnicity: 1990–2013

Figure 4. Percentage of high school completers who were enrolled in 2- or 4-year colleges by the October immediately following high school completion, by race/ethnicity: 1990–2013


NOTE: Due to some short-term data fluctuations associated with small sample sizes, percentages for racial/ethnic groups were calculated based on 3-year moving averages, except in 2013, when estimates were calculated based on 2-year moving averages. For Asian data, the moving average for 2003 reflects an average of 2003 and 2004. High school completers include GED recipients. Separate data on Asian high school completers have been collected since 2003. From 2003 onward, White, Black, and Asian data exclude persons identifying themselves as Two or more races. Prior to 2003, each respondent could select only a single race category, and the "Two or more races" category was not reported. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October Supplement, 1990–2013. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 302.20.


In 2013, the immediate college enrollment rate for high school completers who were White (67 percent) was higher than the rate for those who were Black (57 percent), but not measurably different from the rate for those who were Hispanic (66 percent).1 The immediate college enrollment rate for Asians (81 percent) was higher than the rates for Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics in 2013 and in each year since 2003, when the collection of separate data on Asian high school completers began. The rate for Whites was higher than that for Blacks every year since 1990 except 2010, when there were no measurable differences between their rates. Additionally, the immediate college enrollment rate for Whites was higher than that for Hispanics from 1994 through 2010. Between 1990 and 2013, the immediate college enrollment rate increased for White (from 63 to 67 percent) and Hispanic (from 52 to 66 percent) high school completers. The rate for Black high school completers in 2013 was not measurably different from the rate in 1990, and the rate for Asian high school completers did not change measurably between 2003 and 2013.


1 Due to some short-term data fluctuations associated with small sample sizes, estimates for the income groups and racial/ethnic groups were calculated based on 3-year moving averages, except in 2013, when estimates were calculated based on 2-year moving averages.


Glossary terms: Educational attainment (Current Population Survey), High school completer
Data Source: Current Population Survey (CPS)


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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education