Stay Informed with the Latest Enrollment Information
National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s Monthly Update on Higher Education Enrollment
October 15, 2020
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 monthly 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 (2018 and 2019) serve as baselines (see Methodological Notes for more details).
Fall 2020 Enrollment (As of Sept 24)
Enrollment picture worsens, with more colleges reporting data. Roughly one month into the fall semester, undergraduate enrollment is running 4.0 percent below last year’s level, and the upward trend for graduate enrollment has slipped to 2.7 percent. Overall postsecondary enrollment is down 3.0 percent as of September 24.
Most strikingly, first-time students are by far the biggest decline of any student group from last year (-16.1% nationwide and -22.7% at community colleges).
All student groups identified on a path of decline in the First Look report have fallen further.