Between 2000 and 2010, undergraduate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions increased by 37 percent, from 13.2 to 18.1 million students. Projections indicate that undergraduate enrollment will continue to increase, reaching 20.6 million students in 2021.
Total undergraduate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions increased from 7.4 million students in fall 1970 to 13.2 million in fall 2000 and 18.1 million in fall 2010 (see table A-10-1). According to projections, undergraduate enrollment is expected to reach 20.6 million in fall 2021 (the last year for which projected data are available).
Undergraduate enrollment grew at a faster rate during the 1970s (42 percent) than it did in more recent decades; it continued to increase throughout the 1980s and 1990s, but at slower rates (14 and 10 percent, respectively). From 2000 to 2010, undergraduate enrollment rose by 37 percent. During this period, male enrollment grew 36 percent, from 5.8 million to 7.8 million students, while female enrollment grew 39 percent, from 7.4 to 10.2 million students. In 2010, females accounted for 57 percent of undergraduate enrollment and males, 43 percent. Enrollments for both males and females are expected to increase through 2021, reaching 8.6 and 12.0 million students, respectively.
Undergraduate enrollment in public institutions increased from 10.5 million students in 2000 to 13.7 million in 2010, a 30 percent increase. Private institutions experienced a higher rate of growth over this period, increasing 67 percent, from 2.6 to 4.4 million students. Most of the growth in private institution enrollment between 2000 and 2010 occurred among for-profit institutions—their enrollment increased more than 300 percent, from 0.4 to 1.7 million students. Enrollment at private nonprofit institutions increased by 20 percent, from 2.2 to 2.7 million students.
Between 2000 and 2010, undergraduate enrollment at 4-year institutions increased from 7.2 to 10.4 million students and is expected to reach 11.8 million in 2021 (see table A-10-2). Enrollment increased 34 percent (from 4.8 to 6.5 million) at public 4-year institutions, 22 percent at private nonprofit 4-year institutions (from 2.2 to 2.6 million), and 513 percent at private for-profit 4-year institutions (from 0.2 to 1.3 million). During the same period, enrollment at 2-year institutions increased from 5.9 to 7.7 million students and is expected to reach 8.8 million students by 2021. Between 2000 and 2010, enrollment decreased 44 percent at private nonprofit 2-year institutions (from 59,000 to 33,000) and increased 124 percent at private for-profit 2-year institutions (from 192,000 to 430,000) and 26 percent at public 2-year institutions (from 5.7 to 7.2 million).
Undergraduate enrollment of U.S. residents generally increased between 1980 and 2010 for each racial/ethnic group (see table A-10-3). In 1980, some 8.5 million (83 percent) of the undergraduate enrollment of U.S. residents were White, compared with 9.0 million (70 percent) in 2000. By 2010, the number of White students had grown to 10.9 million, but the percentage had decreased to 62 percent. The number of Black undergraduate students who were U.S. residents increased 163 percent between 1980 and 2010, from 1.0 million (10 percent) to 2.7 million students (15 percent). Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander enrollments increased 487 and 337 percent, respectively, from 1980 to 2010. In 1980, Hispanics and Asians/Pacific Islanders represented 4 and 2 percent of enrollment, respectively, compared to 14 and 6 percent in 2010. American Indian/Alaska Native enrollment increased from 78,000 to 179,000 students from 1980 to 2010 (1 percent of total enrollment in each year). There were about 294,000 undergraduate students who were of two or more races in 2010. In previous years, these students were included in the other racial/ethnic groups.
Projections are based on data through 2010. The most recent year of actual data is 2010, and 2021 is the last year for which projected data are available. For more information on projections, see NCES 2012-044. Data through 1995 are for institutions of higher education, while later data are for degree-granting institutions. Because of underreporting and nonreporting of racial/ ethnic data and nonresident aliens, some estimates on table A-10-3 are slightly lower than corresponding data in other published tables. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. For more information on race/ ethnicity and the classification of postsecondary education institutions, see Appendix C – Commonly Used Measures. For more information on the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), see Appendix B – Guide to Sources. All actual data presented in this indicator are IPEDS fall enrollment data and thus reflect the enrollment in the fall of the academic year.
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