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Annual Reports and Information Staff (Annual Reports)
Postsecondary Education

Undergraduate Enrollment

(Last Updated: May 2021)

Between fall 2009 and fall 2019, total undergraduate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions decreased by 5 percent (from 17.5 million to 16.6 million students). However, enrollment of Hispanic students increased by 48 percent (from 2.4 million to 3.5 million students).

In fall 2019, total undergraduate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the United States1 was 16.6 million students. Between 2009 and 2019, total undergraduate enrollment decreased by 5 percent (from 17.5 million to 16.6 million students).

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Figure 1. Undergraduate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by sex: Fall 2009 through fall 2019
Figure 1. Undergraduate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by sex: Fall 2009 through fall 2019

NOTE: Data are for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Degree-granting institutions grant associate's or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Some data have been revised from previously published figures.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Spring 2010 through Spring 2020, Fall Enrollment component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 303.70.

Figure 2. Undergraduate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by race/ethnicity and nonresident alien status: Fall 2009 and fall 2019
Figure 2. Undergraduate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by race/ethnicity and nonresident alien status: Fall 2009 and fall 2019

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# Rounds to zero.

NOTE: Data are for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Disaggregated data on undergraduate students who were Asian, Pacific Islander, and of Two or more races were not collected in 2009. In 2009, data for undergraduate students who were Asian included students who were Pacific Islander. In 2009, students of Two or more races were required to select a single category from among the offered race/ethnicity categories (i.e., White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, and American Indian/Alaska Native). Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Race/ethnicity categories exclude nonresident aliens. Degree-granting institutions grant associate's or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Spring 2010 and Spring 2020, Fall Enrollment component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 306.10; and Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 306.10.

Figure 3. Undergraduate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by attendance status: Fall 2009 through fall 2019
Figure 3. Undergraduate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by attendance status: Fall 2009 through fall 2019

NOTE: Data are for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Degree-granting institutions grant associate's or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Some data have been revised from previously published figures.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Spring 2010 through Spring 2020, Fall Enrollment component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 303.70.

Figure 4. Undergraduate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by control of institution: Fall 2009 through fall 2019
Figure 4. Undergraduate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by control of institution: Fall 2009 through fall 2019

NOTE: Data are for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Degree-granting institutions grant associate's or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Some data have been revised from previously published figures.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Spring 2010 through Spring 2020, Fall Enrollment component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 303.70.

Figure 5. Undergraduate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by level of institution: Fall 2009 through fall 2019
Figure 5. Undergraduate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by level of institution: Fall 2009 through fall 2019

NOTE: Data are for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Degree-granting institutions grant associate's or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Some data have been revised from previously published figures.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Spring 2010 through Spring 2020, Fall Enrollment component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 303.70.

Figure 6. Percentage of undergraduate students at degree-granting postsecondary institutions who enrolled exclusively in distance education courses, by level and control of institution: Fall 2019
Figure 6. Percentage of undergraduate students at degree-granting postsecondary institutions who enrolled exclusively in distance education courses, by level and control of institution: Fall 2019

NOTE: Data are for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Degree-granting institutions grant associate's or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Distance education uses one or more technologies to deliver instruction to students who are separated from the instructor and to support regular and substantive interaction between the student and the instructor synchronously or asynchronously. Technologies used for instruction may include the following: the internet; one-way and two-way transmissions through open broadcasts, closed circuit, cable, microwave, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite, or wireless communication devices; audio conferencing; and videocassettes, DVDs, and CD-ROMs, only if the videocassettes, DVDs, and CD-ROMs are used in a course in conjunction with the technologies listed above.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Spring 2020, Fall Enrollment component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 311.15.


1 Data in this indicator represent the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

2 Disaggregated data on undergraduate students who were Asian, Pacific Islander, and of Two or more races were not collected in 2009. In 2009, data for undergraduate students who were Asian included students who were Pacific Islander. In 2009, students of Two or more races were required to select a single category from among the offered race/ethnicity categories (i.e., White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, and American Indian/Alaska Native).

3 In the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), racial/ethnic data were not collected for nonresident alien students, and their data were compiled as a separate group. Race/ethnicity categories exclude nonresident aliens.

4 Some of the decrease in for-profit and increase in nonprofit private enrollments can be attributed to a change in the control of some institutions. In 2019, some 31,100 undergraduate students were enrolled in nonprofit institutions that were classified as for-profit institutions in 2009.

5 Some of the shift in enrollment patterns for 2-year and 4-year institutions during this period is likely explained by 2-year institutions’ beginning to offer 4-year degree programs, which caused their institutional level to change to the 4-year classification. In 2019, some 893,300 undergraduate students were enrolled in 4-year institutions that were classified as 2-year institutions in 2009.

6 Distance education uses one or more technologies to deliver instruction to students who are separated from the instructor and to support regular and substantive interaction between the student and the instructor synchronously or asynchronously. Technologies used for instruction may include the following: the internet; one-way and two-way transmissions through open broadcasts, closed circuit, cable, microwave, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite, or wireless communication devices; audio conferencing; and videocassettes, DVDs, and CD-ROMs, only if the videocassettes, DVDs, and CD-ROMs are used in a course in conjunction with the technologies listed above.

7 Not all students taking distance education courses exclusively are specified separately in this comparison; for instance, students residing outside the United States or those whose location is unknown are not specified separately. Percentages were based on all students who took distance education courses exclusively, regardless of their location.

Supplemental Information

STEM Degrees [Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups]
Undergraduate Enrollment [Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups]
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Table 303.70 (Digest 2020): Total undergraduate fall enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by attendance status, sex of student, and control and level of institution: Selected years, 1970 through 2029;
Table 306.10 (Digest 2020): Total fall enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by level of enrollment, sex, attendance status, and race/ethnicity or nonresident alien status of student: Selected years, 1976 through 2019;
Table 311.15 (Digest 2020): Number and percentage of students enrolled in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by distance education participation, location of student, level of enrollment, and control and level of institution: Fall 2018 and fall 2019;
Table 306.10 (Digest 2017): Total fall enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by level of enrollment, sex, attendance status, and race/ethnicity of student: Selected years, 1976 through 2016;
Table 306.10 (Digest 2015): Total fall enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by level of enrollment, sex, attendance status, and race/ethnicity of student: Selected years, 1976 through 2014
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