Stay Informed with the Latest Enrollment Information
National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s Regular Updates on Higher Education Enrollment
March 11, 2021
Beginning in mid-March 2020, many colleges across the U.S. shifted to online-only learning almost overnight. Currently, due to the uncertainty caused by a resurgence of the coronavirus and the challenges of responding to quickly evolving logistical concerns, institutional leaders and students alike are faced with difficult decisions that must be made with a lack of reliable, up-to-date information.
Recognizing the urgency of COVID-19’s impact on students and institutions, the Research Center’s Stay Informed series tracks outstanding college enrollment trends in near real-time during the COVID-19 era. It delivers enrollment data dashboards each term, starting with summer 2020. The dashboards are updated regularly using the latest enrollment data available in the coming months and years.
To highlight unique enrollment patterns that are attributable to the pandemic, the two most recent years (2019 and 2020) serve as baselines to investigate COVID-19’s impact on the spring 2021 enrollment (see Methodological Notes for more details).
First-Look Spring 2021 Enrollment (As of Feb 11)
Six weeks into the new term, spring 2021 enrollment appears to be mirroring last fall’s trend. Undergraduate enrollment is down 4.5% while graduate enrollment is up 4.3%. Overall, college enrollment is running 2.9% below last spring’s level. Community colleges remain the worst-hit sector by COVID-19, down 9.5% from last spring.
Public four-year undergraduate enrollment is currently falling more precipitously (-3.3% this spring, -1.1% last spring and -1.9% last fall). Graduate enrollment, on the other hand, is growing at a higher rate (+4.3% this spring, +1.5% last spring, and +2.9% last fall).
Undergraduate enrollment declined in all racial and ethnic groups. While Native American enrollment decreased the most, Asian and Latinx enrollments have dropped in contrast to their growth last spring. In contrast to last fall, 18- to 24-year-old enrollment dropped more than adult enrollment this spring (-5.3% vs. -2.6%).
Enrollment trends by major field are now available.
Spring 2021 (April)