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Annual Reports and Information Staff (Annual Reports)
Postsecondary Education

College Enrollment Rates

Last Updated: May 2021
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The overall college enrollment rate for 18- to 24-year-olds was 41 percent in 2019. The college enrollment rate in 2019 was higher for 18- to 24-year-olds who were Asian (62 percent) than for those who were of Two or more races (47 percent), White (41 percent), Black (37 percent), Hispanic (36 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native (24 percent).

The overall college enrollment rate of 18- to 24-year-olds (ages in which students traditionally enroll in college) was 41 percent in 2019. 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.

Select a subgroup characteristic from drop-down menu below to view relevant text and figures.

Figure 1. College enrollment rates of 18- to 24-year-olds, by level of institution: 2010 through 2019
Figure 1. College enrollment rates of 18- to 24-year-olds, by level of institution: 2010 through 2019

NOTE: 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 2019. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 302.60.

The overall college enrollment rate in 2019 was not measurably different from the rate in 2010 (41 percent in both years). However, this overall consistency masks divergent trends between 2- and 4-year institutions. The rate for 2-year institutions decreased from 2010 (13 percent) to 2019 (10 percent), while the rate for 4-year institutions increased from 28 percent to 30 percent during this period. [Level of institution ]
Figure 2. College enrollment rates of 18- to 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity: 2010 and 2019
Figure 2. College enrollment rates of 18- to 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity: 2010 and 2019

NOTE: 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 2019. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 302.60.

The college enrollment rate for Hispanic 18- to 24-year-olds was higher in 2019 (36 percent) than in 2010 (32 percent). The college enrollment rate for their American Indian/Alaska Native peers was lower in 2019 (24 percent) than in 2010 (41 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 2019, the college enrollment rate among 18- to 24-year-olds was higher for those who were Asian (62 percent) than for those who were of Two or more races (47 percent), White (41 percent), Black (37 percent), Hispanic (36 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native (24 percent). [Race/ethnicity ]
In every year from 2010 to 2019, 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; 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 2019 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 2019
Figure 3. College enrollment rates of 18- to 24-year-olds, by sex and race/ethnicity: 2010 and 2019

1 Includes other racial/ethnic groups not shown separately.

NOTE: 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 2019. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 302.60.

In 2019, college enrollment rates for both 18- to 24-year-old males (37 percent) and females (44 percent) were not measurably different from the corresponding rates in 2010. However, among males, college enrollment rates were higher in 2019 than in 2010 for those who were Hispanic (33 vs. 28 percent) and lower in 2019 than in 2010 for those who were White (37 vs. 41 percent). The rate in 2019 was not measurably different from the rate in 2010 for Black males and for White, Black, and Hispanic 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 six of the last 10 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 2020): Percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in college, by level of institution and sex and race/ethnicity of student: 1970 through 2019
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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.