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Annual Reports and Information Staff (Annual Reports)
Postsecondary Education

College Enrollment Rates

Last Updated: May 2022
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The overall college enrollment rate for 18- to 24-year-olds was 40 percent in 2020. The college enrollment rate in 2020 was higher for 18- to 24-year-olds who were Asian (64 percent) than for those who were White (41 percent), Hispanic (36 percent), Black (36 percent), of Two or more races (34 percent), Pacific Islander (34 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native (22 percent).

The overall college enrollment rate of 18- to 24-year-olds (ages in which students traditionally enroll in college) was 40 percent in 2020. In this indicator, college enrollment rate is defined as the percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled as undergraduate or graduate students in 2- or 4-year institutions. The Immediate College Enrollment Rate indicator, in contrast, presents data on the percentage of high school completers who enroll in 2- or 4-year institutions in the fall immediately following high school.

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Figure 1. College enrollment rates of 18- to 24-year-olds, by level of institution: 2010 through 2020
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A confidence interval is a range of values that describes the uncertainty surrounding an estimate. Throughout the Condition of Education, confidence intervals are calculated as the estimate +/- the margin of error, based on a 95 percent level of confidence. This means that there is 95 percent certainty that the range includes the true or actual value of the statistic.
Confidence Interval
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NOTE: To estimate the margin of error, the standard error is scaled based on the desired level of confidence in the estimate. Throughout the Condition of Education, margins of error are produced based on a 95 percent level of confidence. Margin of error is calculated as 1.96*standard error. Includes 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in college or graduate school. Data are based on sample surveys of the civilian noninstitutionalized population, which excludes persons in the military and persons living in institutions (e.g., prisons or nursing facilities).

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October Supplement, 2010 through 2020. See Digest of Education Statistics 2021, table 302.60.

The overall college enrollment rate in 2020 (40 percent) was not measurably different from the rate in 2010. However, the college enrollment rates for 2-year and 4-year institutions changed in different directions over this same time period. The rate for 2-year institutions decreased from 13 percent to 9 percent between 2010 and 2020, while the rate for 4-year institutions increased from 28 percent to 31 percent during this period. [Level of institution ]
Figure 2. College enrollment rates of 18- to 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity: 2010 and 2020
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A confidence interval is a range of values that describes the uncertainty surrounding an estimate. Throughout the Condition of Education, confidence intervals are calculated as the estimate +/- the margin of error, based on a 95 percent level of confidence. This means that there is 95 percent certainty that the range includes the true or actual value of the statistic.
Confidence Interval
Bar | Table
Users can select years at irregular intervals. However, as a result, the distance between the data points will not be proportional to the number of years between them.
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Embed this figure

NOTE: To estimate the margin of error, the standard error is scaled based on the desired level of confidence in the estimate. Throughout the Condition of Education, margins of error are produced based on a 95 percent level of confidence. Margin of error is calculated as 1.96*standard error. Includes 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in college or graduate school. Data are based on sample surveys of the civilian noninstitutionalized population, which excludes persons in the military and persons living in institutions (e.g., prisons or nursing facilities). Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October Supplement, 2010 and 2020. See Digest of Education Statistics 2021, table 302.60.

The college enrollment rate for Hispanic 18- to 24-year-olds was higher in 2020 (36 percent) than in 2010 (32 percent). In contrast, the college enrollment rate for their American Indian/Alaska Native peers decreased from 2010 (41 percent) to 2020 (22 percent). There was no measurable difference between these years’ college enrollment rates for those who were White, Black, Asian, Pacific Islander, and of Two or more races. [Race/ethnicity ]
In 2020, the college enrollment rate among 18- to 24-year-olds was higher for those who were Asian (64 percent) than for those who were White (41 percent), Hispanic (36 percent), Black (36 percent), of Two or more races (34 percent), Pacific Islander (34 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native (22 percent). [Race/ethnicity ]
In every year from 2010 to 2020, the college enrollment rate for those who were Asian was higher than the rates for those who were White, Black, and Hispanic. The college enrollment rate for those who were White was higher than the rate for those who were Black in every year from 2010 to 2018, as well as in 2020; the two rates were not measurably different in 2019. The college enrollment rate for those who were White was also higher than the rate for those who were Hispanic in every year from 2010 to 2020 except for 2016, when the rates were not measurably different. [Race/ethnicity ]
Figure 3. College enrollment rates of 18- to 24-year-olds, by sex and race/ethnicity: 2010 and 2020
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Bar | Table
A confidence interval is a range of values that describes the uncertainty surrounding an estimate. Throughout the Condition of Education, confidence intervals are calculated as the estimate +/- the margin of error, based on a 95 percent level of confidence. This means that there is 95 percent certainty that the range includes the true or actual value of the statistic.
Confidence Interval
Bar | Table
Users can select years at irregular intervals. However, as a result, the distance between the data points will not be proportional to the number of years between them.
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Embed this figure

1 Includes other racial/ethnic groups not shown separately.

NOTE: To estimate the margin of error, the standard error is scaled based on the desired level of confidence in the estimate. Throughout the Condition of Education, margins of error are produced based on a 95 percent level of confidence. Margin of error is calculated as 1.96*standard error. Includes 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in college or graduate school. Data are based on sample surveys of the civilian noninstitutionalized population, which excludes persons in the military and persons living in institutions (e.g., prisons or nursing facilities). Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October Supplement, 2010 and 2020. See Digest of Education Statistics 2021, table 302.60.

Between 2010 and 2020, the college enrollment rate for 18- to 24-year-old males decreased from 38 to 36 percent. However, the rate for 18- to 24-year-old females did not measurably differ between the two years (44 percent for both). The college enrollment rate was higher in 2020 than in 2010 for Hispanic females (42 vs. 36 percent). For White males, the rate was lower in 2020 than in 2010 (37 vs. 41 percent). The rate in 2020 was not measurably different from the rate in 2010 for Black and Hispanic males and for White and Black females. [Sex*Race/ethnicity]
In every year since 2010, the college enrollment rate for 18- to 24-year-olds overall was higher for females than for males. This pattern was also observed for both White and Hispanic 18- to 24-year-olds. Among those who were Black, the college enrollment rate was higher for females than for males in 7 of the last 11 years for which data were available. The rates were not measurably different in 2012, 2015, 2016, and 2019. [Sex*Race/ethnicity]

Supplemental Information

College Participation Rates [Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups]
Snapshot: College Participation Rates for Racial/Ethnic Subgroups [Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups]
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Table 302.60 (Digest 2021): Percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in college, by level of institution and sex and race/ethnicity of student: 1970 through 2020
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Suggested Citation

National Center for Education Statistics. (2022). College Enrollment Rates. Condition of Education. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved [date], from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/cpb.