Fall 2021 Final Enrollment Count – Colleges Lost 476,000 Students!

Dear Commons Community,

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported this morning that the final enrollment  in American higher education was down 2.7 percent or 476,100 students for fall 2021.  Undergraduate enrollments dropped by 3.1 percent.  Below is an excerpt from the article.


The Chronicle of Higher Education

New data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center provides a somber final tally of total college enrollment in the fall of 2021: It dropped 2.7 percent from a year earlier, a decline of 476,100 students.

Undergraduate enrollment, which was down at every type of institution, slipped by 3.1 percent — or 465,318 students — from the fall of 2020. The total decline among undergraduates since the fall of 2019 — just before the pandemic hit — was more than a million students, the center said.

As colleges navigate their second full academic year of the pandemic — with some pivoting to online instruction as cases of Covid’s Omicron variant rise — undergraduates are “continuing to sit out in droves,” Doug Shapiro, the center’s executive director, said in a news release.

One somewhat bright spot appeared in the center’s new report: The data show that freshman enrollment stabilized in the fall of 2021, increasing 0.4 percent. Four-year private nonprofit colleges added 11,600 students to lead that increase.

But enrollment for that group of students still didn’t come close to what it was before the pandemic. The fall-2021 freshman class was 9.2 percent smaller — about 213,000 students — than it was in the fall of 2019.

Enrollment at community colleges, still the hardest-hit sector since the pandemic began, dropped 3.4 percent in the fall of 2021 from the same time in 2020. Since 2019, community colleges have lost more than 700,000 students.

Data from the center also show that enrollment fell in each of the five largest undergraduate majors at four-year colleges: business, health, liberal arts, biology, and engineering. Liberal arts, down 7.6 percent, declined the most.

Comments are closed.

Skip to toolbar