New data released Thursday by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center show a continued downward slide in undergraduate enrollment.
So far this fall, undergraduate attendance has dropped 3.5 percent compared with a year earlier. Since fall 2019, undergraduate enrollment has declined nearly 8 percent.
Every sector felt the shortage of undergraduate students, some more sharply than others. The decline at private for-profit four-year institutions was the worst, with an enrollment drop of 8.5 percent compared with a 2.6-percent drop last fall.
Community-college enrollment fell 6 percent, a slower rate than last fall’s 9.4-percent decline. Public four-year colleges dropped 2.5 percent from a year earlier, about a full percentage point more than last fall’s loss.
Private nonprofit four-year institutions’ enrollment fared best; it was down just 0.6 percent.
At primarily online colleges, which were defined as institutions where nearly all students attended classes online before the pandemic began, undergraduate attendance fell 8.9 percent — a reversal of the growth such institutions saw last fall.
A persistent bright spot in college attendance: graduate student enrollment. Graduate attendance grew 2.1 percent, in line with last fall’s trend of a 2.7-percent increase.
The new data, which reflect enrollments as of October 21, represent 13.7 million students at 74 percent of the 3,600 institutions that report to the center.