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Indicators

Immediate College Enrollment Rate
(Last Updated: January 2018)

The immediate college enrollment rate for high school completers increased from 63 percent in 2000 to 70 percent in 2016. The enrollment rate for those from high-income families (83 percent) was higher than the rate for those from low-income (67 percent) and middle-income families (64 percent) in 2016. The gap in enrollment rates between low- and high-income students narrowed from 30 percentage points in 2000 to 16 percentage points in 2016. The gap between low- and middle-income students was 12 percentage points in 2000, but there was no measurable gap between low- and middle-income students in 2016.

Of the 3.1 million recent high school completers1 in 2016, some 2.2 million, or 70 percent, enrolled in college by the following October. The annual percentage of high school completers who enroll in 2- or 4-year colleges in the fall immediately following high school completion is known as the immediate college enrollment rate. The overall immediate college enrollment rate increased from 63 percent in 2000 to 70 percent in 2016, though the 2016 rate was not measurably different from that in 2010.


Figure 1. Percentage of high school completers who were enrolled in 2- or 4-year colleges by the October immediately following high school completion, by level of institution: 2000 through 2016

Figure 1. Percentage of high school completers who were enrolled in 2- or 4-year colleges by the October immediately following high school completion, by level of institution: 2000 through 2016


NOTE: High school completers are individuals ages 16 to 24 who graduated from high school or completed a GED or other high school equivalency credential prior to October of the calendar year.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October Supplement, 2000 through 2016. See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 302.10.


Higher percentages of high school completers immediately enrolled in 4-year colleges than in 2-year colleges in every year from 2000 to 2016. In 2016, about 46 percent of high school completers enrolled in a 4-year college and 24 percent enrolled in a 2-year college. The immediate college enrollment rates for 4-year and for 2-year colleges in 2016 were not measurably different from 2000.


Figure 2. Percentage of high school completers who were enrolled in 2- or 4-year colleges by the October immediately following high school completion, by sex: 2000 through 2016

Figure 2. Percentage of high school completers who were enrolled in 2- or 4-year colleges by the October immediately following high school completion, by sex: 2000 through 2016


NOTE: High school completers are individuals ages 16 to 24 who graduated from high school or completed a GED or other high school equivalency credential prior to October of the calendar year.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October Supplement, 2000 through 2016. See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 302.10.


In 2016, the overall immediate college enrollment rate for males (67 percent) was not measurably different from the rate for females (72 percent). From 2000 to 2016, the immediate college enrollment rate for males increased from 60 to 67 percent. The enrollment rate for females in 2016 was not measurably different from the rate in 2000. The immediate enrollment rates at 2-year colleges were not measurably different for males (25 percent) and females (22 percent). At 4-year colleges, the immediate college enrollment rate for females (50 percent) was higher than the rate for males (42 percent).


Figure 3. Percentage of high school completers who were enrolled in 2- or 4-year colleges by the October immediately following high school completion, by family income: 2000 through 2016

Figure 3. Percentage of high school completers who were enrolled in 2- or 4-year colleges by the October immediately following high school completion, by family income: 2000 through 2016


1 High income refers to the top 20 percent of all family incomes.
2 Middle income refers to the 60 percent in between the bottom 20 percent and the top 20 percent of all family incomes.
3 Low income refers to the bottom 20 percent of all family incomes.
NOTE: High school completers are individuals ages 16 to 24 who graduated from high school or completed a GED or other high school equivalency credential prior to October of the calendar year. Due to some short-term data fluctuations associated with small sample sizes, percentages for income groups were calculated based on 3-year moving averages, except in 2016, when estimates were calculated based on a 2-year moving average (an average of 2015 and 2016).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October Supplement, 2000 through 2016. See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 302.30.


In each year from 2000 to 2016, the immediate college enrollment rate for students2 from high-income3 families was higher than the rates for students from middle-income and low-income families.4 In 2016, the immediate college enrollment rate for students from high-income families was 83 percent, compared with 64 percent for students from middle-income families and 67 percent for students from low-income families. In every year since 2000 except in 2015 and 2016, the enrollment rate for students from middle-income families was higher than the rate for students from low-income families.

The gap between the immediate college enrollment rates for students from high-income and low-income families narrowed between 2000 and 2016. The gap between the immediate college enrollment rates for students from high-income and low-income families was 14 percentage points smaller in 2016 (16 percentage points) than in 2000 (30 percentage points). However, the gap between the enrollment rates for students from high-income and middle-income families in 2016 (19 percentage points) was not measurably different from the gap in 2000.


Figure 4. Percentage of high school completers who were enrolled in 2- or 4-year colleges by the October immediately following high school completion, by race/ethnicity: 2000 through 2016

Figure 4. Percentage of high school completers who were enrolled in 2- or 4-year colleges by the October immediately following high school completion, by race/ethnicity: 2000 through 2016


1 The separate collection of data on Asian high school completers did not begin until 2003.
NOTE: High school completers are individuals ages 16 to 24 who graduated from high school or completed a GED or other high school equivalency credential prior to October of the calendar year. Due to some short-term data fluctuations associated with small sample sizes, percentages for racial/ethnic groups were calculated based on 3-year moving averages with the following exceptions: The percentages for 2016 were calculated based on a 2-year moving average (an average of 2015 and 2016), and the 2003 percentage for Asian high school completers was based on a 2-year moving average (an average of 2003 and 2004). From 2003 onward, data for White, Black, and Asian high school completers exclude persons identifying themselves as of Two or more races. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October Supplement, 2000 through 2016. See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 302.20.


The immediate college enrollment rate for White students was higher in 2016 (71 percent) than in 2000 (65 percent), as was the rate for Hispanic students (71 percent in 2016 and 49 percent in 2000). The enrollment rate for Asian students was also higher in 2016 (87 percent) than in 2003 (74 percent), when the collection of separate data on Asian students began.5 The immediate college enrollment rate for Black students in 2016 (56 percent) was not measurably different from the rate in 2000.

The immediate college enrollment rate for White students was higher than that for Black students every year since 2000 except for 2010, when there was no measurable difference between their rates. Additionally, the immediate college enrollment rate for White students was higher than that for Hispanic students from 2000 through 2010. In every year since 2011, there was no measurable difference between the immediate college enrollment rates for White and Hispanic students. The immediate college enrollment rate for Black students was higher than the rate for Hispanic students in 2000, not measurably different from the rate for Hispanic students in 2001 through 2014, and lower than the rate for Hispanic students in 2015 and 2016. The immediate college enrollment rate for Asian students was higher than the rates for Black students and Hispanic students every year since 2003. In addition, the enrollment rate for Asian students was higher than the rate for White students every year since 2004.


1 High school completers are individuals ages 16 to 24 who graduated from high school or completed a GED or other high school equivalency credential prior to October of the calendar year.
2 The terms "high school completers" and "students" are used interchangeably throughout the indicator.
3 High income refers to the top 20 percent of all family incomes, low income refers to the bottom 20 percent of all family incomes, and middle income refers to the 60 percent in between.
4 Due to some short-term data fluctuations associated with small sample sizes, estimates for the income groups and racial/ethnic groups were calculated based on 3-year moving averages with the following exceptions: The percentages for 2016 were calculated based on a 2-year moving average (an average of 2015 and 2016), and the 2003 percentage for Asians was based on a 2-year moving average (an average of 2003 and 2004).
5 Prior to 2003, data were collected for the combined race category of Asian/Pacific Islander.


A PDF file of this indicator will be available in May 2018. The PDF file currently available below is an older edition of this indicator.


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