Why College Enrollments Continue to Fall

College Enrollment Continues to Decline

College enrollment in the U.S. has decreased for the eighth consecutive year, according to an article published in Inside Higher Ed (https://insidehigheredcom) according to data released by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

The overall decline compared to last year was 1.7 percent. Community colleges continued their enrollment slide with a decline of 3.4 percent. Four-year public institutions saw a drop of .9 percent. States that had the largest decrease in student enrollment numbers were Florida, California, Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Alaska, Florida, Illinois, North Dakota, Hawaii and Kansas had the largest percentage declines.

Why is this taking place? There are a number of variables, so it is difficult to pinpoint  a singular cause. I will enumerate.

  • Our college-aged population is aging.
  • The number of college-aged people is declining.
  • College-aged people may have different obligations such as taking care of their children and/or their parents.
  • Some individuals may find that the ROI may not be a good investment in their future for their time or money. Student loan payments are at an all-time high. The individual loan payments equaled $33,654. The total student debt is $1.45 trillion.
  • Some people need or want to go into the workforce as opposed to going to college.
  • The continual rising cost of college tuition which in 2016-2017 was $26,593 (National Center for Educational Statistics) (NCES)

Higher education serves many purposes. We, as a society, need it to provide greater economic growth. With the decline in enrollment, we will be unable to fulfill the numbers necessary in STEM jobs that most economists say is vital for our future economy.

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