Overview

In spring 2016, overall postsecondary enrollments decreased 1.3 percent from the previous spring. Figure 1 shows the 12-month percentage change (fall-to-fall and spring-to-spring) for each term over the last three years. Enrollments decreased among four-year for-profit institutions (-9.3 percent) and two-year public institutions (-2.8 percent). Enrollments increased slightly among four-year public institutions (+0.6 percent) and four-year private nonprofit institutions (+0.7 percent). Taken as a whole, public sector enrollments (two-year and four-year combined) declined by 0.9 percent this spring.

Note that the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center has restated the spring 2015 public sector figures in this report from those originally published in May 2015 to reflect the fact that some two-year public institutions have since been reclassified in IPEDS as four-year public institutions. There are no changes to the numbers in either the “all sectors” or private sector categories, and the total number of students in the public sector has not changed. Only the allocation of public sector students to two-year vs. four-year institutions has shifted.

Current Term Enrollment Estimates, published every December and May by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, include national enrollment estimates by institutional sector, state, enrollment intensity, age group, and gender. Enrollment estimates are adjusted for Clearinghouse data coverage rates by institutional sector, state, and year. As of spring 2016, postsecondary institutions actively submitting enrollment data to the Clearinghouse account for over 96 percent of enrollments at U.S. Title IV, degree-granting institutions. Most institutions submit enrollment data to the Clearinghouse several times per term, resulting in highly current data. Moreover, since the Clearinghouse collects data at the student level, it is possible to report an unduplicated headcount, which avoids double-counting students who are simultaneously enrolled at multiple institutions.

Figure 1: Percent Change from Previous Year, Enrollment by Sector (Title IV, Degree-Granting Institutions)

Current Term Enrollment Estimates - Spring 2016 Figure 1

Figure 1 shows the 12-month percentage change (fall-to-fall and spring-to-spring) for each term over the last three years.

 

Figure 2: Percent Change from Fall to Spring, Enrollment by Sector (Title IV, Degree-Granting Institutions)

Current Term Enrollment Estimates - Spring 2016 Figure 2
Figure 2 shows fall-to-spring percent changes in enrollments by institutional sector, for each of the last three years. Typically, spring enrollments are lower than fall enrollments, but it is important to recognize that this is not an attrition rate for individual students. Rather, the drop represents the net effect of fall student attrition, graduation, and stopout, combined with new and returning spring student enrollments. The overall difference between fall and spring enrollment totals (all sectors) decreased slightly in spring 2016, with enrollments 4.9 percent below the fall 2015 total.

 

Table 1: Estimated National Enrollment by Sector (Title IV, Degree-Granting Institutions)

Spring 2016 Spring 2015 Spring 2014
Sector Enrollment % Change from Prior Year Enrollment % Change from Prior Year Enrollment % Change from Prior Year
Total
Enrollment, All Sectors
18,343,655 -1.3% 18,592,605 -1.9% 18,948,521 -0.8%
Four-Year, Public 7,630,085 0.6% 7,586,223 0.9% 7,522,278 0.8%
Four-Year, Private Nonprofit 3,710,663 0.7% 3,685,554 -0.2% 3,694,299 2.0%
Four-Year, For-Profit 1,104,587 -9.3% 1,217,358 -4.9% 1,280,716 -4.9%
Two-Year, Public 5,567,802 -2.8% 5,729,111 -4.8% 6,020,354 -2.9%
Unduplicated Student Headcount (All Sectors) 18,003,354 -1.4% 18,267,143 -1.7% 18,587,703 -1.0%

UNDERSTANDING THE NUMBERS

Table 1 provides counts of spring term enrollments submitted to the Clearinghouse by April 11 of each year. Enrollments represent one student at one institution. Thus a student enrolled simultaneously at two institutions would be counted twice. The unduplicated headcount provides the number of unique students with no double-counting. This figure can be used to determine the percentage of concurrent enrollments in any year. In each spring term, about 2.0 percent of total enrollments can be accounted for by students enrolling in more than one institution.

Institutional classifications for the current term are based on the most recently available IPEDS institutional characteristics at the time of publication. Less-than-two-year institutions have been aggregated with two-year institutions. Two-year for-profits and two-year private nonprofits are not shown in the table due to small counts, but enrollments from those sectors are included in the overall totals. Additional notes on data and coverage are included at the end of this report.

Table 2: Estimated Enrollment in Private Non-Profit Institutions by Size of Institution (Title IV, Degree-Granting Institutions)

Spring 2016 Spring 2015 Spring 2014
Sector Institution Size Enrollment % Change from Prior Year Enrollment % Change from Prior Year Enrollment % Change from Prior Year
Four-Year, Private Nonprofit Under 3,000 1,096,002 1.8% 1,076,736 -2.4% 1,103,541 2.5%
3,000 to 9,999 1,222,584 1.9% 1,199,442 -0.8% 1,209,703 3.3%
10,000 or More 1,392,077 -1.2% 1,409,376 2.1% 1,381,054 0.6%

UNDERSTANDING THE NUMBERS

Table 2 provides a deeper look at the enrollment counts for private nonprofit institutions, by institution size. The size of institution is based on the most recently available IPEDS fall enrollment totals. Additional notes on data and coverage are included at the end of this report.

Table 3: Estimated National Enrollment by Sector and Program Level (Title IV, Degree-Granting Institutions)

Sector Program Level Spring 2016 Enrollment
All Sectors Undergraduate 15,629,873
Graduate/Professional 2,713,783
Four-Year, Public Undergraduate 6,313,131
Graduate/Professional 1,316,954
Four-Year, Private Nonprofit Undergraduate 2,585,360
Graduate/Professional 1,125,304
Four-Year, For-Profit Undergraduate 829,611
Graduate/Professional 274,977

UNDERSTANDING THE NUMBERS

Table 3 provides enrollment counts by program level. Beginning in the 2014-15 academic year, institutions began submitting additional data elements to the Clearinghouse to satisfy new reporting requirements for the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). This makes it possible to measure undergraduate and graduate enrollments separately for the spring term, starting with spring 2016. The undergraduate category includes: undergraduate certificate/diplomas, associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, teacher preparation programs, special non-credential programs that have been classified by institutions as undergraduate programs, and enrollments that are not part of any structured program. The graduate/professional category includes: post-baccalaureate certificates, master’s degrees, doctoral degrees, first-professional degrees, graduate/professional certificates, and special non-credential programs that have been specifically classified by institutions as graduate-level programs.

Table 4: Estimated National Enrollment by Sector and Intensity Level (Title IV, Degree-Granting Institutions)

Spring 2016 Spring 2015 Spring 2014
Sector Enrollment Intensity Enrollment % Change from Prior Year Enrollment % Change from Prior Year Enrollment % Change from Prior Year
All Sectors Full-Time 11,286,984 -1.4% 11,445,464 -2.0% 11,674,997 -0.5%
Part-Time 7,056,672 -1.3% 7,147,141 -1.7% 7,273,523 -1.4%
Four-Year, Public Full-Time 5,454,144 0.8% 5,410,076 0.3% 5,396,341 0.9%
Part-Time 2,175,941 0.0% 2,176,147 2.4% 2,125,937 0.5%
Four-Year, Private Nonprofit Full-Time 2,846,046 1.2% 2,812,585 -0.3% 2,821,072 2.1%
Part-Time 864,618 -1.0% 872,969 0.0% 873,227 1.7%
Four-Year, For-Profit Full-Time 728,708 -11.3% 821,941 -10.9% 922,895 -6.2%
Part-Time 375,880 -4.9% 395,416 10.5% 357,821 -1.4%
Two-Year, Public Full-Time 2,064,923 -5.5% 2,185,922 -6.5% 2,338,561 -3.3%
Part-Time 3,502,879 -1.1% 3,543,189 -3.8% 3,681,793 -2.7%

UNDERSTANDING THE NUMBERS

Table 4 provides enrollment counts by the enrollment intensity of the student. The part-time category includes enrollments reported to the Clearinghouse as three-quarter time, half-time, and less-than-half-time. Enrollment intensity is defined by the institution and based on the earliest data submitted for a student in any given term. As a result, the intensity generally reflects the student’s intended workload at the beginning of the term. Less-than-two-year institutions have been aggregated with two-year institutions. Two-year for-profits and two-year private nonprofits are not shown in the table due to small counts, but enrollments from those sectors are included in the overall totals. Additional notes on data and coverage are included at the end of this report.

Table 5: Estimated National Enrollment by Sector and Age Group (Title IV, Degree-Granting Institutions)

Spring 2016 Spring 2015 Spring 2014
Sector Age Group Enrollment % Change from Prior Year Enrollment % Change from Prior Year Enrollment % Change from Prior Year
All Sectors 24 and Under 11,543,811 -0.1% 11,551,652 -0.8% 11,642,930 0.7%
Over 24 6,799,845 -3.4% 7,040,953 -3.6% 7,305,590 -3.1%
Four-Year, Public 24 and Under 5,359,502 1.2% 5,296,021 1.3% 5,229,845 2.0%
Over 24 2,270,583 -0.9% 2,290,202 -0.1% 2,292,432 -1.8%
Four-Year, Private Nonprofit 24 and Under 2,214,914 0.1% 2,212,500 -0.1% 2,214,743 2.1%
Over 24 1,495,750 1.5% 1,473,054 -0.4% 1,479,555 1.9%
Four-Year, For-Profit 24 and Under 200,970 -15.7% 238,300 -0.3% 239,104 -5.8%
Over 24 903,617 -7.7% 979,058 -6.0% 1,041,612 -4.7%
Two-Year, Public 24 and Under 3,483,210 -1.0% 3,517,260 -2.9% 3,623,292 -0.7%
Over 24 2,084,592 -5.8% 2,211,851 -7.7% 2,397,062 -6.1%

UNDERSTANDING THE NUMBERS

Table 5 provides counts of spring term enrollments by student age group. Student age is calculated as of the first day of the term (a date specific to the institution). Less-than-two-year institutions have been aggregated with two-year institutions. Two-year for-profits and two-year private nonprofits are not shown in the table due to small counts, but enrollments from those sectors are included in the overall totals. Additional notes on data and coverage are included at the end of this report.

Table 6: Estimated National Enrollment by Sector and Gender (Title IV, Degree-Granting Institutions)

Spring 2016 Spring 2015 Spring 2014
Sector Gender Enrollment % Change from Prior Year Enrollment % Change from Prior Year Enrollment % Change from Prior Year
All Sectors Men 7,881,732 -1.2% 7,981,219 -2.1% 8,153,001 -0.5%
Women 10,461,923 -1.4% 10,611,385 -1.7% 10,795,520 -1.1%
Four-Year, Public Men 3,405,333 0.5% 3,389,542 0.1% 3,386,200 1.1%
Women 4,224,752 0.7% 4,196,681 1.5% 4,136,078 0.6%
Four-Year, Private Nonprofit Men 1,531,114 0.2% 1,527,993 -0.8% 1,541,060 1.8%
Women 2,179,550 1.0% 2,157,561 0.2% 2,153,239 2.2%
Four-Year, For-Profit Men 401,847 -9.0% 441,404 -4.2% 460,769 -4.8%
Women 702,740 -9.4% 775,954 -5.4% 819,947 -5.0%
Two-Year, Public Men 2,402,362 -2.7% 2,468,212 -4.5% 2,585,044 -2.3%
Women 3,165,440 -2.9% 3,260,899 -5.1% 3,435,310 -3.3%

UNDERSTANDING THE NUMBERS

Table 6 provides counts of spring term enrollments by gender. Institutions reported student gender to the Clearinghouse for slightly less than half of all students. For all other students, gender was imputed based on first name. Less-than-two-year institutions have been aggregated with two-year institutions. Two-year for-profits and two-year private nonprofits are not shown in the table due to small counts, but enrollments from those sectors are included in the overall totals. Additional notes on data, coverage, and imputation of gender are included at the end of this report.

Table 7: Estimated Enrollment by State of Institution (Title IV, Degree-Granting Institutions)

Spring 2016 Spring 2015 Spring 2014
State Enrollment % Change from Prior Year Enrollment % Change from Prior Year Enrollment % Change from Prior Year
Multi-State Institutions 845,686 -14.4% 987,740 -10.5% 1,103,582 -6.3%
Alabama 267,350 -1.3% 270,894 0.7% 269,045 0.1%
Alaska 31,047 -1.8% 31,619 -1.9% 32,222 2.8%
Arizona 402,232 3.3% 389,213 1.7% 382,693 -0.2%
Arkansas 150,561 1.0% 149,094 -3.6% 154,632 -0.6%
California 2,400,525 0.7% 2,383,101 0.4% 2,373,314 -0.3%
Colorado 296,568 0.8% 294,214 -2.0% 300,077 -2.1%
Connecticut 185,418 -3.7% 192,626 3.0% 187,085 -1.0%
Delaware 52,635 -3.9% 54,751 1.1% 54,166 0.5%
District of Columbia 72,017 1.1% 71,261 -1.3% 72,223 -1.7%
Florida 956,679 -2.0% 975,969 -4.2% 1,018,476 0.0%
Georgia 461,961 0.2% 461,134 1.3% 455,148 -0.8%
Hawaii 53,615 -4.2% 55,953 -1.9% 57,018 -4.8%
Idaho 93,768 3.2% 90,885 -4.1% 94,753 -1.4%
Illinois 631,965 -4.4% 661,167 -3.8% 687,305 -3.1%
Indiana 341,037 -3.8% 354,596 -3.0% 365,681 -1.1%
Iowa 193,452 -2.1% 197,518 -1.3% 200,129 -2.9%
Kansas 176,652 -1.5% 179,387 -1.7% 182,579 -2.8%
Kentucky 222,277 -1.8% 226,313 -5.3% 239,075 -0.9%
Louisiana 214,835 -0.3% 215,422 -2.7% 221,419 -3.9%
Maine 64,461 -2.6% 66,191 -0.4% 66,427 0.8%
Maryland 338,038 -2.1% 345,186 -1.5% 350,376 -2.0%
Massachusetts 442,930 0.7% 439,756 -3.0% 453,198 -0.7%
Michigan 528,913 -4.2% 551,917 -3.5% 572,015 -4.5%
Minnesota 375,734 -0.8% 378,887 -3.2% 391,383 -2.4%
Mississippi 152,147 -1.9% 155,114 -0.7% 156,264 -1.8%
Missouri 347,620 -2.5% 356,373 -5.0% 375,209 -1.9%
Montana 46,723 -2.8% 48,066 -3.3% 49,685 -3.7%
Nebraska 123,126 -5.1% 129,780 1.2% 128,204 -2.3%
Nevada 103,450 0.6% 102,876 -3.1% 106,119 1.4%
New Hampshire 125,940 11.6% 112,819 19.0% 94,782 15.5%
New Jersey 367,621 -2.8% 378,278 -1.4% 383,677 -1.3%
New Mexico 115,113 -4.0% 119,917 -8.3% 130,831 -2.6%
New York 1,097,138 -1.2% 1,110,273 -1.2% 1,123,782 -1.1%
North Carolina 501,532 -1.6% 509,796 -1.2% 516,153 -1.6%
North Dakota 50,067 -0.6% 50,352 -0.6% 50,661 0.0%
Ohio 588,502 -2.5% 603,606 -2.1% 616,685 -2.4%
Oklahoma 178,351 2.0% 174,880 -5.5% 184,985 -1.6%
Oregon 232,433 -2.0% 237,178 -7.2% 255,497 5.2%
Pennsylvania 667,392 -2.9% 687,244 -1.6% 698,476 -1.1%
Rhode Island 67,821 0.4% 67,570 -0.7% 68,056 -0.1%
South Carolina 224,127 -1.5% 227,487 -1.3% 230,427 -0.4%
South Dakota 45,089 0.1% 45,057 2.0% 44,176 -1.2%
Tennessee 275,533 -3.3% 284,791 -1.6% 289,339 -3.2%
Texas 1,370,177 2.0% 1,343,381 -1.6% 1,365,908 1.3%
Utah 276,165 8.5% 254,424 4.8% 242,767 0.3%
Vermont 41,157 2.1% 40,303 -0.4% 40,475 -0.7%
Virginia 484,558 -3.3% 500,953 -1.1% 506,612 0.0%
Washington 322,554 0.9% 319,659 -2.2% 326,751 0.1%
West Virginia 148,574 -3.5% 153,966 -3.0% 158,743 2.3%
Wisconsin 303,221 -4.1% 316,239 -1.3% 320,450 -0.6%
Wyoming 29,465 0.8% 29,217 -2.6% 29,990 -3.0%

UNDERSTANDING THE NUMBERS

Table 7 provides enrollment counts by the state where the institution is located. Institutions that span multiple states have been included in a separate line called “multi-state institutions.” Enrollments for these institutions are not included in any of the other state-level totals. Additional notes on data and coverage are included at the end of this report.

Notes on the Data

National Coverage of the Data

As of spring 2016, institutions actively submitting enrollment data to the Clearinghouse account for 96 percent of all enrollments at Title IV, degree-granting institutions in the nation. Because Clearinghouse participation grew over the period covered by this report, and because coverage of institutions (i.e., percentage of all institutions participating in the Clearinghouse) is not 100 percent for any individual year, weights were applied by institutional sector and state to better approximate enrollment figures for all institutions nationally. Using all IPEDS Title IV, degree-granting institutions as the base study population, weights for each institution type and state were calculated using the inverse of the rate of enrollment coverage for that sector or state in the relevant year. Given the unavailability of fall 2015 IPEDS enrollments at the time of publication, fall 2014 IPEDS enrollments were used as the basis for calculating the spring 2016 Clearinghouse coverage rates.

For detailed statistics on enrollment coverage, as well as several other aspects of Clearinghouse data, visit the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s  “Working With Our Data” page.

Differences from IPEDS

National Student Clearinghouse data are non adjudicated, administrative data that come directly from college and university registrars. These data differ from IPEDS survey data in a number of important ways:

  1. Term definition: IPEDS does not conduct a spring enrollment survey, so there are no comparable IPEDS numbers for the spring. For Clearinghouse reporting, institutions provide the start- and end-dates for each enrollment, rather than formally designating fall or spring terms. Spring Terms included in the Current Term Enrollment Estimates are those that:
    • began between January 15 and March 31, inclusive OR
    • ended between February 15 and April 30, inclusive OR
    • began before January 15 AND ended after April 30.
  2. Degree-granting status: When referencing IPEDS enrollment counts, it is important to distinguish counts limited to degree-granting institutions from those that also include non-degree granting institutions. NCES publishes both of these counts in IPEDS First-Look Reports. The Clearinghouse counts in this report are limited to Title IV, degree-granting institutions.
  3. Enrollment status changes: Institutions submit data to the Clearinghouse throughout a given term, capturing changes in enrollment status from one submission to the next. The counts in this report include all students whose institution submitted at least one enrollment record showing the student as enrolled either full-time, half-time, or less-than-half-time during the term. For IPEDS reporting, an institution generally counts a student according to the student’s enrollment status as of the institution’s IPEDS census date.
  4. International students: International students are not included in this report. Clearinghouse enrollment records for international students continue to grow steadily as more institutions opt in to providing this data component. In order to ensure consistent year-to-year comparisons, however, we will continue to exclude international students from this report until the data coverage rate reaches a stable level. (According to the most recent IPEDS data, slightly less than four percent of the total US enrollment is accounted for by the nonresident alien category.)

Imputation of Gender

Institutions reported student gender to the Clearinghouse for slightly less than half of all students included in this report. The genders of the remaining students were imputed using a table of name-gender pairs that the Research Center developed using data publicly available from the Census Bureau and the Social Security Administration as well as the institution-reported data. The imputation used only those pairs in which the name had at least two instances and was associated with a single gender in at least 95 percent of the instances. The imputation is accurate in 99.6 percent of the cases with known gender. A detailed document on the development of our approach resides on the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s “Working With Our Data” Web page.

Community Colleges Outcomes Report

The Role of Community Colleges in Postsecondary Success

The Community Colleges Outcomes Report, “The Role of Community Colleges in Postsecondary Success,” provides recent report findings from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center on two-year colleges. Key community college metrics are provided for three areas — college access and persistence, transfer and mobility, and certificate and degree completion – which are important indicators of community college progress.