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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