Fall 2020 Enrollment Declines by 4 Percent

November 13, 2020

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Title: Fall 2020 Undergraduate Enrollment Down 4 Percent Compared to Same Time Last Year

Authors: Todd Sedmak

Source:  National Student Clearinghouse

According to a new report from the National Student Clearinghouse, fall 2020 undergraduate and graduate enrollment is down four and nearly three percent respectively, compared with fall 2019.

Based on preliminary data of 54 percent of institutions that submit enrollment data to the Clearinghouse, the report highlights concerning enrollment trends as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. First-time student enrollment in particular accounts for nearly 70 percent of the enrollment decline.

Among key takeaways, the report finds that relative to fall 2019:

  • Overall enrollment is down across all institutional sectors except for private for-profit institutions, which have seen an enrollment increase of 3 percent.
  • The community college sector has been hit hardest by declines in enrollment, as overall enrollment in community colleges is nearly 10 percent lower in fall 2020 than it was in fall 2019. The most dramatic decline in enrollment has been freshmen students at community colleges, with a nearly 23 percentage point drop in enrollment.
  • Institutions that are primarily online have seen enrollment increases at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Enrollment of students ages 25 years or older was up 5.5 percent at these institutions.
  • American Indian or Alaska Native students have seen the sharpest decline in enrollment of any racial or ethnic group, down nearly 11 percent, followed by Black students (down 7.9 percent), white students (down 7.6 percent), Hispanic students (down 6.1 percent) and Asian students (down 4.0 percent).

The brief is accompanied by an interactive dashboard readers can use to examine trend changes for themselves.

To read the brief, click here.

—Charles Sanchez

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