U.S. Undergraduate Enrollment Declines From Fall 2019 to Fall 2020

October 13, 2021

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Title: These Were Last Fall’s Winners and Losers in Undergraduate Enrollment

Author: Jacquelyn Elias

Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education

Recently published analyses of federal data offer insights on enrollment patterns from fall of 2019 to fall of 2020 for particular U.S. regions, locales, and states. Examining data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the author analyzed enrollment trends for over 3,000 institutions.

The author outlined several findings within their analyses:

  • Fewer than one-third of institutions reported growth in undergraduate enrollment from fall 2019 to fall 2020. Of those that did report growth, increases were highest at for-profit colleges.
  • The only states to see increases in undergraduate enrollment from fall 2019 to fall 2020 were Arizona, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Utah.
  • While every type of locale (rural, urban, suburban) saw undergraduate enrollment drop from fall 2019 to fall 2020, rural regions witnessed the steepest declines across the two fall semesters. Remote rural locales experienced a 6.5 percent decrease in enrollment, distant rural locales a 7.5 percent drop, and fringe rural locales a 7.9 percent drop.
  • Every geographic region but the Rocky Mountain and Southwest regions saw enrollment declines.
  • Most severely impacted was the West, particularly California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, experiencing a combined enrollment decline of almost 100,000 students.
  • The author also offers an interactive tool, which allows readers to explore the top 10 colleges and universities in each state with the sharpest increases and decreases.

To read the full analyses, click here.

—Ty McNamee

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