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Enrollment

Question:
Do you have information on postsecondary enrollment rates?

Response:

Fall enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions increased by 21 percent between 1994 and 2004. Between 2004 and 2014, enrollment increased 17 percent, from 17.3 million to 20.2 million. The number of full-time students rose 17 percent between 2004 and 2014, while the number of part-time students rose 16 percent. During the same period, the number of female students rose 15 percent, while the number of male students rose 19 percent. Although male enrollment increased by a larger percentage than female enrollment between 2004 and 2014, the majority (56 percent) of students in 2014 were female. During the most recent part of this period, between 2010 and 2014, enrollment decreased by 4 percent, reflecting decreases for both males (3 percent) and females (5 percent). In addition to enrollment in degree-granting institutions, about 456,000 students attended non-degree-granting, Title IV eligible, postsecondary institutions in fall 2014. These institutions are postsecondary institutions that do not award associate's or higher degrees; they include, for example, institutions that offer only career and technical programs of less than 2 years' duration.

Like enrollment in degree-granting institutions for the United States as a whole, the number of students enrolled in degree-granting institutions located within individual states generally has been lower in recent years. Overall, fall enrollment in degree-granting institutions declined 0.5 percent between 2009 and 2014.

Between fall 2004 and fall 2014, the percentage increase in the number of students enrolled in degree-granting institutions was higher for students under age 25 than for older students; however, the rate of increase is expected to be lower for students under age 25 than for older students in the coming years. The enrollment of students under age 25 increased by 18 percent from 2004 to 2014, while the enrollment of those age 25 and over increased by 16 percent. From 2014 to 2025, however, NCES projects the increase for students under age 25 to be 13 percent, compared with 18 percent for students age 25 and over.

Enrollment trends have differed at the undergraduate and postbaccalaureate levels. Undergraduate enrollment increased 47 percent between fall 1970 and fall 1983, when it reached 10.8 million. Undergraduate enrollment dipped to 10.6 million in 1984 and 1985, but then increased each year from 1985 to 1992, rising 18 percent before stabilizing between 1992 and 1998. Between 2004 and 2014, undergraduate enrollment rose 17 percent overall, from 14.8 million to 17.3 million; however, undergraduate enrollment in 2014 was lower than in 2010 (18.1 million). Postbaccalaureate enrollment increased 34 percent between 1970 and 1984, with most of this increase occurring in the early and mid-1970s. Postbaccalaureate enrollment increased from 1985 to 2014, rising a total of 77 percent. During the last decade of this period, between 2004 and 2014, postbaccalaureate enrollment rose 17 percent, from 2.4 million to 2.9 million.

Since fall 1988, the number of females in postbaccalaureate programs has exceeded the number of males. Between 2004 and 2014, the number of full-time male postbaccalaureate students increased by 24 percent, compared with a 28 percent increase in the number of full-time female postbaccalaureate students. Among part-time postbaccalaureate students, the number of males increased by 5 percent and the number of females increased by 8 percent.

The percentage of American college students who are Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, Black, and American Indian/Alaska Native has been increasing. From fall 1976 to fall 2014, the percentage of Hispanic students rose from 4 percent to 17 percent, the percentage of Asian/Pacific Islander students rose from 2 percent to 7 percent, the percentage of Black students rose from 10 percent to 14 percent, and the percentage of American Indian/Alaska Native students rose from 0.7 percent to 0.8 percent. During the same period, the percentage of White students fell from 84 percent to 58 percent. Nonresident aliens, for whom race/ethnicity is not reported, made up 5 percent of college students in 2014.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2016). Digest of Education Statistics, 2015 (NCES 2016-014), Chapter 3.

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