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Back to school statistics

What are the new back to school statistics for 2018?


Elementary and Secondary Education


In fall 2018, about 56.6 million students will attend elementary and secondary schools, including 50.7 million students in public schools and 5.9 million in private schools. Of the public school students, 35.6 million will be in prekindergarten through grade 8 and 15.1 million will be in grades 9 through 12. The fall 2018 public school enrollment is expected to be slightly higher than the 50.6 million enrolled in fall 2017 and is higher than the 49.5 million students enrolled in fall 2010 (source). Total public elementary and secondary enrollment is projected to increase between fall 2018 and fall 2027 to 52.1 million.

Of the projected 50.7 million public school students entering prekindergarten through grade 12 in fall 2018, White students will account for 24.1 million. The remaining 26.6 million will be composed of 7.8 million Black students, 14.0 million Hispanic students, 2.6 million Asian students, 0.2 million Pacific Islander students, 0.5 million American Indian/Alaska Native students, and 1.6 million students of Two or more races. The percentage of students enrolled in public schools who are White is projected to continue to decline through at least fall 2027 along with the percentage of students who are Black, while the percentage of students who are Hispanic Asian, and of Two or more races are projected to increase (source).

In fall 2018, about 1.4 million children are expected to attend public prekindergarten and 3.6 million are expected to attend public kindergarten (source).

About 4.0 million public school students are expected to enroll in 9th grade in fall 2018 (source). Students typically enter American high schools in 9th grade.


Public school systems will employ about 3.2 million full-time-equivalent (FTE) teachers in fall 2018, such that the number of pupils per FTE teacher—that is, the pupil/teacher ratio—will be 16.0. This ratio has remained consistent at around 16.0 since 2010. A projected 0.5 million FTE teachers will be working in private schools this fall, resulting in an estimated pupil/teacher ratio of 12.3, which is similar to the 2017 ratio of 12.2, but lower than the 2010 ratio of 13.0 (source).


Current expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools are projected to be $654 billion for the 2018–19 school year. The current expenditure per student is projected to be $12,910 for the 2018–19 school year (source).


About 3.6 million students are expected to graduate from high school in 2018–19, including 3.3 million students from public high schools and 0.4 million students from private high schools (source).

College and University Education


The number of students projected to attend American colleges and universities in fall 2018 is 19.9 million, which is higher than the enrollment of 15.3 million students in fall 2000, but lower than the enrollment peak of 21.0 million in fall 2010 (source). Total enrollment is expected to increase between fall 2018 and fall 2027 to 20.5 million.

Females are expected to account for the majority of college and university students in fall 2018: about 11.2 million females will attend in fall 2018, compared with 8.7 million males. Also, more students are expected to attend full time (an estimated 12.1 million students) than part time (7.8 million students) (source).

Some 6.7 million students will attend 2-year institutions and 13.3 million will attend 4-year institutions in fall 2018 (source). About 17.0 million students are expected to enroll in undergraduate programs, and 2.9 million are expected to enroll in postbaccalaureate programs (source).

In 2018, a projected 12.3 million college and university students will be under age 25 and 7.6 million students will be 25 years old and over. The number of college and university students under age 25 hit a peak of 12.2 million in 2011 and has remained steady since that time. The number of students 25 years old and over hit a similar peak in 2010 (of 8.9 million) but the overall enrollment for this age group declined from 2010 to 2018 (source).


During the 2018–19 school year, colleges and universities are expected to award 1.0 million associate‘s degrees; 1.9 million bachelor's degrees; 780,000 master's degrees; and 182,000 doctor's degrees (source). In 2015–16, postsecondary institutions awarded 939,000 certificates below the associate‘s degree level, 1.0 million associate‘s degrees, 1.9 million bachelor‘s degrees, 786,000 master‘s degrees, and 178,000 doctor‘s degrees (source).

Background information from prior school years:

Some information on the 2018–19 school year is not available. This section presents selected highlights from prior school years to provide some context for the current school year.

Elementary and Secondary Schools and Districts

In 2015–16, there were about 13,600 public school districts (source) with close to 98,300 public schools, including about 6,900 charter schools (source). In fall 2015, there were about 34,600 private schools offering kindergarten or higher grades (source).

In 2016–17, about one-third (32 percent) of districts reported that all of their Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs were structured as career pathways that align with related postsecondary programs, and an additional one-third (33 percent) reported that most of their programs were structured this way (source).

High School Dropout

The percentage of high school dropouts among 16- to 24-year-olds declined from 10.9 percent in 2000 to 6.1 percent in 2016 (source). Reflecting the overall decline in the dropout rate between 2000 and 2016, the rates also declined for White, Black, and Hispanic students.

Immediate College Enrollment

The percentage of students enrolling in college in the fall immediately following high school completion was 69.8 percent in 2016 (source).

Postsecondary Demographics

Higher numbers and percentages of Black and Hispanic students are attending colleges and universities. The percentage of all students attending colleges and universities who were Black was higher in 2016 than in 2000 (13.7 vs. 11.7 percent), and the percentage who were Hispanic rose from 9.9 to 18.2 percent over the same time period (source). Also, the percentage of Hispanic 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in colleges and universities increased from 21.7 percent in 2000 to 39.2 percent in 2016, and the percentage of Black 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled increased from 30.5 percent to 36.2 percent in that same period (source).

Postsecondary Finance

For the 2016–17 academic year, the average annual price for undergraduate tuition, fees, room, and board was $17,237 at public institutions, $44,551 at private nonprofit institutions, and $25,431 at private for-profit institutions. Charges for tuition and required fees averaged $6,817 at public institutions, $32,556 at private nonprofit institutions, and $14,419 at private for-profit institutions (source).

Labor Force Outcomes

In 2016, about 78.8 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds with a bachelor's or higher degree in the labor force had year-round, full-time jobs, compared with 72.3 percent of those with an associate's degree, 69.5 percent of those with some college education, 68.9 percent of those who completed high school, and 60.1 percent of those without a high school diploma or its equivalent (source). In 2017, the unemployment rate for 25- to 34-year-olds with a bachelor‘s or higher degree (2.5 percent) was lower than the rate for young adults with some college (4.4 percent), those who had completed high school (7.2 percent), and those who had not completed high school (13.2 percent) (source).

In 2016, for young adults ages 25–34 who worked full time, year round, higher educational attainment was associated with higher median earnings; this pattern was consistent from 2000 through 2016. For example, in 2016, the median earnings of young adults with a bachelor's degree ($50,000) were 57 percent higher than those of young adult high school completers ($31,800). The median earnings of young adult high school completers were 26 percent higher than those of young adults who did not complete high school ($25,400). In addition, in 2016, the median earnings of young adults with a master's or higher degree were $64,100, some 28 percent higher than those of young adults with a bachelor's degree ($50,000) (source).

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