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College enrollment declines ease, new data show

Student loans
AP/Seth Wenig
New graduates walk into the High Point Solutions Stadium before the start of the Rutgers University graduation ceremony in Piscataway Township, N.J., on May 13, 2018. President Joe Biden’s student loan cancellation offers a life-changing financial break for millions of Americans. But for future students heading to college under the same conditions that created today’s debt, critics say it offers little help. Chief among the causes of today’s rising student debt is the cost of college. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

College enrollment declines eased in the fall after steep drops over the pandemic, according to a new report released Thursday by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

In 2022, fall undergraduate enrollment only contracted by 0.6 percent compared to 2021. 

Part of the stabilizing declines can be attributed to a 4.3 percent increase in freshman enrollment compared to fall 2021. However, freshman enrollment is still down 150,000 students compared to 2019, right before the pandemic. 

The pandemic gave a significant hit on college enrollment, exacerbating a decline in college enrollment that has been going on for the past decade. 

Community colleges saw a significant increase in fall 2022, with a rise of 6.1 percent compared to fall 2019, according to the report. It is a welcomed reprieve as community college enrollment was hit hard by the pandemic. 

Four-year public school enrollment rates also went up by 3.9 percent, while comprehensive state institutions took on the brunt of the decline.

Latino and Asian undergrad students saw a slight increase in their enrollment numbers at 1.6 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively, while white, Black and Native American students saw declines. 

The majors students are currently looking the most at are business and marketing, health professions, liberal arts and sciences, biological sciences and engineering, the report reads.

Tags College enrollment

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