Total undergraduate enrollment in degree-granting institutions increased from 10.5 million in 1980 to 17.6 million students in 2009. In 2009, about two-thirds of undergraduate students were under the age of 25 (Aud et al. 2011, table A-39-1). Between 1980 and 2009, enrollment numbers increased for each racial/ethnic group. Hispanic enrollment increased by more than five-fold, from 0.4 million in 1980 to 2.4 million in 2009. Asian/Pacific Islander enrollment more than quadrupled from 0.2 million to 1.1 million. During this time period, Black enrollment more than doubled (from 1.0 million to 2.6 million), as did American Indian/Alaska Native enrollment (from 0.1 to 0.2 million). White enrollment also increased, from 8.5 million in 1980 to 10.9 million in 2009, but it had the smallest percentage increase of all the racial/ethnic groups.
Of the 17.6 million students enrolled in an undergraduate institution in 2009, approximately 57 percent were female, up from 52 percent in 1980. For all racial/ethnic groups the majority of the increase in female enrollment occurred between 1980 and 2000 and the percentages of undergraduate enrollment that were female remained stable or decreased in recent years. The largest difference in the percentage of male and female undergraduates was among Black students. In 1980, some 58 percent of Black undergraduates were female and by 2009, females accounted for 64 percent of total Black undergraduate enrollment. The next largest difference was among American Indians/Alaska Natives, with females making up 55 percent of total American Indian/Alaska Native enrollment in 1980 and their share increasing to 60 percent in 2009. Between 1980 and 2009, females also increased their share of total Hispanic and White enrollment (from 51 to 58 percent for Hispanic females and from 52 to 55 percent for White females). In 1980 and 1990, Asian/Pacific Islander females represented less than half of total Asian/Pacific Islander enrollment. Since 2000, however, more females than males have enrolled, and, in 2009, females represented 53 percent of total Asian/Pacific Islander undergraduate enrollment.