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College Enrollment Projected to Grow 15% by 2025

September 29, 2017

A new federal report projects that enrollment in American postsecondary institutions will climb 15 percent from 2014 to 2025, with larger proportional increases among adult than traditional-age students, women than men, graduate students than undergraduates, and minority students than white students. That growth would represent about half the increase in actual enrollments between 2001 and 2014, but is larger than many college leaders might fear.

The report from the Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics projects a broad range of demographic and other data about education to 2025. It projects the number of high school graduates to grow 5 percent from 2012-13 to 2025-26, compared to the 22 percent actual increase that occurred from 2000-1 to 2012-13.

Postsecondary enrollment is projected to grow to 23.3 million from the 20.2 million that the department projects actual enrollment will have hit in 2014. (The federal data lag, and the latest final published data are from 2012-13.) The data show postsecondary enrollments having grown 32 percent from 2000 to 2014.

Of that 2025 total:

  • Female students are projected to make up 13.4 million, an increase of 17 percent. Male students would increase by 13 percent from 2014 to 2025, to 9.9 million.
  • Part-time students are projected to make up 9 million, an increase of 16 percent.
  • Graduate students would make up 3.5 million, a rise of 21 percent.
  • White students would make up 11.5 million of the total 23.3 million, up 3 percent, with the number of Latino (32 percent), black (22 percent), Asian-Pacific Islander (16 percent) and multi-racial (37 percent) students all growing more rapidly. The number of American Indian/Alaska Native students is projected to dip by 2 percent.

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Doug Lederman

Doug Lederman is editor and co-founder of Inside Higher Ed. He helps lead the news organization's editorial operations, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Doug speaks widely about higher education, including on C-Span and National Public Radio and at meetings and on campuses around the country, and his work has appeared in The New York Times and USA Today, among other publications. Doug was managing editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education from 1999 to 2003. Before that, Doug had worked at The Chronicle since 1986 in a variety of roles, first as an athletics reporter and editor. He has won three National Awards for Education Reporting from the Education Writers Association, including one in 2009 for a series of Inside Higher Ed articles he co-wrote on college rankings. He began his career as a news clerk at The New York Times. He grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and graduated in 1984 from Princeton University. Doug lives with his wife, Kate Scharff, in Bethesda, Md.

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