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Enrollment in Higher Education: Fall 1995

May 1997

(NCES 97-440) Ordering information


Enrollment in All Postsecondary Institutions

  • In fall 1995, there were about 15.1 million students enrolled in postsecondary institutions, of whom 14.3 million were enrolled in institutions of higher education (IHEs). Of the total, about 0.5 million were nonresident aliens (table 1-1).
  • Of the U.S. citizens and resident aliens enrolled in any postsecondary institution, 74.1 percent were white, non-Hispanic; 11.0 percent, black, non-Hispanic; 8.2 percent, Hispanic; 5.7 percent, Asian or Pacific Islander; and 1 percent, American Indian or Alaskan Native (figure 1).
  • Other postsecondary institutions served a higher proportion of minority students (35.1 percent) in 1995 than did IHEs (25.3 percent) (table 1-2).

Enrollment in Institutions of Higher Education

  • White students composed 72.3 percent of the population of students enrolled in IHEs, while the remaining 27.7 percent of students were black (10.3 percent), Hispanic (7.7 percent), Asian (5.6 percent), American Indian (0.9 percent) and nonresident aliens (3.2 percent) (table 1-3).
  • Women composed the majority of all students in higher education (55.5 percent), but only 41.6 percent of the students enrolled in first-professional schools. Almost two-thirds (66.4 percent) of all black graduate students were women (table 1-4).
  • Over half (54.5 percent) of all students enrolled in IHEs were between 18 and 24 years of age. However, enrolled men tended to be younger than enrolled women, with 57.3 percent of men and 52.2 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 24. Only 15.1 percent of enrolled men were over 34, compared to 21.4 percent of enrolled women (table 1-5).

Types of Institutions

  • About 78 percent of all students in IHEs attended public institutions. However, among postbaccalaureate students, 60.6 percent of first-professional students attended private institutions, while 37.2 percent of graduate students did so (table 2- 2).
  • Among all students, 61.5 percent attended 4-year institutions, as did 55.1 percent of all undergraduates. Among students in public institutions, more than half (52.4 percent) attended 4-year institutions, while among students in private institutions, 93.2 percent attended 4-year institutions (figure 2-2). The vast majority of students attending 2-year institutions, 96.1 percent, attended public institutions (figure 2-3).
  • Among undergraduate students attending 4-year institutions, a higher percentage of Hispanic, Asian, and American Indian students (72.5 percent to 79.1 percent), than white and black students (68 percent) attended public institutions (figure 2-4).

Attendance Status

  • Overall, 58.4 percent of undergraduate students attended school full time, as did 89.5 percent of first-professional students and 41.4 percent of graduate students (table 3-1).
  • Asian undergraduates were more likely to attend school full time than were undergraduates in any other racial/ethnic category (61.2 percent versus 51 percent to 59 percent), while Hispanic and American Indian undergraduates were less likely to attend full time than were white or black students (51 percent and 56 percent versus 59 percent and 58 percent) (table 3-2).

Changes in Enrollment

  • Since 1992, total college enrollment has decreased every year, resulting in a 1.5 percent decrease overall. These decreases are primarily attributable to lower enrollments in public institutions, which decreased by 2.5 percent since 1992. Of all the institutional sectors, increases in enrollment between 1991 and 1995 occurred only in private 4-year institutions (table 4-1).
  • All of the decreases in undergraduate enrollment in all types of institutions occurred among white students. Between 1991 and 1995, the number of Hispanic undergraduates increased by 25.8 percent, Asians increased by 23.9 percent, American Indians by 14.1 percent, and blacks by 8.5 percent (table 4-4).
  • The number of graduate students from all racial/ethnic groups increased between 1991 and 1995, although the number of white graduate students increased at a considerably lower rate than the number of minority graduate students (1.9 percent versus 32.2 percent) (table 4-5).

Enrollment by State

  • Nationally, 81.0 percent of undergraduates were enrolled in public institutions. By state, the percentage of undergraduates in public institutions ranged from a high of 98.6 percent in Nevada to a low of 21.3 percent in the District of Columbia, with 19 states below the national average (table 5-2).
  • Changes in enrollment since 1991 also show variations by state. Summarizing over all states, enrollment has decreased in 23 states and the District of Columbia, with the decreases ranging from 0.1 percent in Virginia to 10.2 percent in California. On the other hand, enrollment has increased in 25 states, with increases ranging from 0.4 percent in Arizona to 14 percent in Alabama. In 2 states, there was no change (table 5-5).

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National Center for Education Statistics -
U.S. Department of Education