College enrollment in the U.S. has decreased for the eighth consecutive year, according to new data released Thursday by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The report covers 97 percent of enrollments at degree-granting postsecondary institutions that are eligible to receive federal financial aid.
The overall decline this spring compared to last year was 1.7 percent, or roughly 300,000 students, the center found. Last year's decrease was slightly larger, at 1.8 percent.
Community colleges continued their enrollment slide with a decline of 3.4 percent. Four-year public institutions saw a drop of 0.9 percent, the center found. Four-year private institutions bucked the trend with an increase of 3.2 percent. However, the center said most of this increase was due to the conversion of large for-profit institutions to nonprofit status. Grand Canyon University, for example, successfully made the transition last year.
States with the largest decrease in student enrollment numbers were Florida, California, Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania, according to the center, in that order. Alaska, Florida, Illinois, North Dakota, Hawaii and Kansas had the largest percentage declines.