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College Enrollment Declines Continue

May 30, 2019

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.

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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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