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Enrollments Slide, Particularly for Older Students

May 24, 2016

This spring 18.3 million students enrolled in college, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, a decline of 1.3 percent compared to last spring. The biggest dips were at four-year institutions in the for-profit sector (down 9.3 percent) and at community colleges (2.8 percent). Enrollments increased slightly at four-year public institutions (0.6 percent) and at four-year privates (0.7 percent). Overall enrollments at public colleges were down by 0.9 percent.

Older students continue to account for much of national enrollment declines. Compared to last spring, 241,000 fewer students over age 24 enrolled, while the decline in the 24-and-under category was just 7,800. And students over the age of 24 made up nearly 80 percent of the community college sector's slide.

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Paul Fain

Paul Fain, Contributing Editor, came to Inside Higher Ed in September 2011, after a six-year stint covering leadership and finance for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Paul has also worked in higher ed P.R., with Widmeyer Communications, but couldn't stay away from reporting. A former staff writer for C-VILLE Weekly, a newspaper in Charlottesville, Va., Paul has written for The New York Times, Washington City Paper and Mother Jones. He's won a few journalism awards, including one for beat reporting from the Education Writers Association and the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award. Paul got hooked on journalism while working too many hours at The Review, the student newspaper at the University of Delaware, where he earned a degree in political science in 1996. A native of Dayton, Ohio, and a long-suffering fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, Fain plays guitar in a band with more possible names than polished songs.

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