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Who They Are and Where They're Going

January 28, 2005

As enrollments at American colleges continue to soar, vaulting past the 17 million mark in fall 2002, students grow ever more likely to be black or Hispanic and female and to attend community colleges or for-profit institutions, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Education Department.

The department on Thursday released a report, "Enrollment in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2002 and Financial Statistics, Fiscal Year 2002," which provides the latest available look at who students are and where they're going. The last comparable report looked at enrollments two years earlier.

Over all, the latest statistics show that colleges that qualify to award federal financial aid enrolled 17,288,483 students in fall 2002, up from 15,924,028 in fall 2000. That's an increase of 1,364,455, or 8.6 percent.

Just over 17 million of those students were at colleges in the contiguous United States -- the rest were at institutions in U.S. territories. Of those 17 million:

  • About 6.6 million, or 39.0 percent, attended two-year colleges, up from 6.1 million (or 38.6 percent) in fall 2000. The proportion of students attending four-year colleges declined from 59.6 to 59.2 percent.
  • Nearly 12.9 million of the students, or 75.6 percent, attended public institutions and 3.3 million attended private nonprofit institutions. While they represented a small fraction of all students, the number of students attending for-profit institutions grew to about 850,000 (or 5 percent), up from about 673,000 (4.3 percent) in 2000.
  • The proportion of students who are male continued to shrink, dropping from 43.7 percent in 2000 to 43.1 percent in 2002.
  • The proportion of students who are black and Hispanic continued to grow, while the proportion of white students declined and the proportion of Asian students held steady. 

One slightly surprising statistic: the proportion of full-time students increased between 2000 and 2002, climbing from 59.2 percent to 60.3 percent.

 

                                                              

  Number of students, 2002 % of total, 2002 Number of students, 2000 % of
total,
2000
Total enrollment 17,035,027 100.0 15,924,028 100.0
         
Type of institution        
4-year 10,083,252 59.2 9,365,805 59.6
2-year 6,640,516 39.0 6,061,897 38.6
Less than 2 year 311,259 1.8 273,707 1.7
         
Public 12,883,071 75.6 11,891,450 75.7
Private nonprofit 3,299,094 19.4 3,137,108 20.0
For-profit 852,862 5.0 672,851 4.3
         
Type of student        
Full-time 10,272,756 60.3 9,292,349 59.2
Part-time 6,762,271 39.7 6,409,060 40.8
         
Men 7,344,936 43.1 6,859,383 43.7
Women 9,690,091 56.9 8,842,026 56.3
         
White 10,593,759 62.2 10,086,012 64.2
Black 1,950,905 11.5 1,726,907 11.0
Hispanic 1,624,726 9.5 1,436,317 9.1
Asian/Pacific Islander 999,739 5.9 922,445 5.9
American Indian 160,406 0.9 147,178 0.9
Race unknown 1,111,747 6.5 848,741 5.4
Nonresident alien 593,745 3.5 533,809 3.4

                                            Source: U.S. Education Department

 

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