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National College Enrollments Continue to Slide

December 19, 2016

Overall college enrollments declined 1.4 percent this fall compared to one year ago, according to new data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, a dip of more than 270,000 students. Nationwide enrollments began their slide in 2012 and have now continued for the last 10 consecutive college terms.

The biggest drop this fall was in the for-profit sector, which saw a 14.5 percent decline. Community colleges experienced a 2.6 percent decline. Enrollments were down slightly (0.6 percent) at four-year private institutions and up a small amount (0.2 percent) at four-year public institutions.

“The trends of a declining adult student enrollment and the shrinking for-profit sector are now joined by stagnating numbers of new high school graduates. These forces show no sign of slowing and will continue to challenge institutions in their planning,” Doug Shapiro, executive research director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, said in a written statement. “The greatest decreases in enrollment are happening in the Northeast and Midwest, while the West and South are seeing increases.”

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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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