Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bad News for Colleges

Today the Census Bureau released 2010 school enrollment statistics with the latest data on the number of people enrolled in college. You're likely to hear the media report that college enrollment hit an all-time high of 20 million in 2010. Sounds great, no?

No. Look more closely at the numbers and you find that enrollment in four-year colleges fell between 2009 and 2010, to 10,450,000--down by 11,000 students. Ok, that's a very small decline in the overall scheme of things, but there's more. The number of students enrolled full-time in four-year schools fell by a larger 199,000 to 8,486,000.

And that's not all. The number of full-time students attending private four-year schools continued its downward trajectory, falling to 1,805,000--13 percent below the all-time high of 2,077,000 in 2005. Perhaps more ominous, the number of full-time students at public four-year schools also fell between 2009 and 2010, down by 121,000 to 6,680,000.

Bottom line: the growth in college enrollment is occurring only at two-year colleges and at graduate schools. The traditional college market is shrinking.

Source: Census Bureau, School Enrollment

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