Current Term Enrollment Estimates: Fall 2023

Expanded Edition

January 24, 2024

Undergraduate enrollment grew 1.2 percent (+176,000) in fall 2023, the first increase since the pandemic. Among the three largest sectors, growth was highest at community colleges, which gained 118,000 students (+2.6%) after steep declines during the pandemic. Public and private nonprofit 4-year institutions both saw smaller increases of 0.6 percent (+38,000 and +16,000, respectively). Over two-thirds of states saw undergraduate enrollment growth this fall.

Freshman enrollment grew this fall, but at a slower rate (+0.8%, +18,000) than undergraduate enrollment overall. This growth was driven by community colleges, which added 17,000 (+2.3%), and by older freshmen (age 21 and above, +6.3%, +18,000). There was no growth among freshmen 20 years old and younger. Their enrollment remains 5.3 percent below 2019 levels.

Undergraduate enrollment increased among all major ethnoracial groups except white (-2.0%, -124,000) and Native American students (-1.0%, -1,000). Women’s enrollment stabilized this year (+0.3%, +27,000) after large pandemic-era declines, while men’s enrollment continued to grow (+1.1%, +64,000).

This expanded edition features new analyses of students’ neighborhood income background, enrollment at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), community college enrollment by transfer or vocational program focus, and trends by institution locale, along with more detailed information on enrollment by credential level, age, and major field. The dashboard-based report allows users to explore the longitudinal data through interactive visualizations. Full data are available in the Data Appendix for download. 

Download the Data Appendix (xlsx) and Methodological Notes (pdf). 

Navigate using the tabs at the top of the dashboard to see details for different institutions and students.

Difference from the Stay Informed report series

Current Term Enrollment Estimates (CTEE) series is published every January and May. It provides national enrollment estimates by credential type, institutional sector, enrollment intensity, age group, gender, major field as well as state-level enrollment estimates. Starting in fall 2020, state-level enrollment data are also shown by institution sector.

Enrollment estimates are adjusted for Clearinghouse data coverage rates by institutional sector, state, and year. This differs from the Stay Informed report series which is designed to quantify the effects of COVID-19 by analyzing year-over-year percent change in unadjusted preliminary data for fixed panels of institutions that reported data in the same month each year across all comparison years.

Enrollment estimates may differ between the CTEE and the Stay Informed reports due to the difference in methodology and institution coverage. Postsecondary institutions actively submitting enrollment data to the Clearinghouse account for 97 percent of the total enrollments at Title IV, degree-granting institutions in the U.S.

The Current Term Enrollment Estimates Expanded Edition report is supported in part by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through grant R305X220022 to Teachers College, Columbia University. This project is part of the Accelerating Recovery in Community Colleges (ARCC) Network. The opinions expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education. 

Past Reports

2023:  Spring + Appendix

2022:  Spring  |  Fall + Appendix

2021:  Spring  |  Fall

2020:  Spring  |  Fall

2019:  Spring  |  Fall

2018:  Spring  |  Fall

2017:  Spring  |  Fall

2016 Spring  |  Fall

2015:  Spring  |  Fall

2014:  Spring  |  Fall

2013:  Spring  |  Fall

2012:  Fall

COVID-19 Supplement for Spring 2020 (June 2020):  Full Report + Data Dashboard

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