The Hechinger Report is a national nonprofit newsroom that reports on one topic: education. Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get stories like this delivered directly to your inbox.

Led by continuing drops at private, for-profit colleges, higher-education enrollment declined this fall for a sixth semester in a row, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reports.

The number of students overall fell by about 1 percent, or 250,000, at the very time that policymakers are pushing to speed up the pace at which the nation is producing college graduates.

Click to enlarge

Most of the decrease is among students over 24, who researchers said were either leaving college or deciding not to enroll as the economy improves and more jobs become available. The number of students finishing high school is also down, meaning there are fewer of them bound for higher education.

Most of the decrease is among students over 24, who researchers said were either leaving college or deciding not to enroll as more jobs become available

There appeared to be a particularly sharp decline at community colleges, whose numbers fell by 6 percent, though part of that is because some of those colleges have added bachelor’s degree programs and their students have been reclassified into the four-year, rather than two-year, category.

When that shift is taken into account, community college enrollment fell by 3.6 percent, the Clearinghouse reports.

The number of students at four-year private, nonprofit institutions rose about 1.6 percent, though the growth was concentrated at the largest campuses.
The enrollment slide at private, for-profit colleges slowed to less than half of 1 percent, down from last year’s nearly 10 percent plunge.

The Hechinger Report provides in-depth, fact-based, unbiased reporting on education that is free to all readers. But that doesn't mean it's free to produce. Our work keeps educators and the public informed about pressing issues at schools and on campuses throughout the country. We tell the whole story, even when the details are inconvenient. Help us keep doing that.

Join us today.

Jon Marcus, higher-education editor, has written about higher education for the Washington Post, USA Today, Time, the Boston Globe, Washington Monthly, is North America higher-education correspondent for...

Letters to the Editor

3 Letters

At The Hechinger Report, we publish thoughtful letters from readers that contribute to the ongoing discussion about the education topics we cover. Please read our guidelines for more information.

By submitting your name, you grant us permission to publish it with your letter. We will never publish your email. You must fill out all fields to submit a letter.

  1. Private colleges are doing better than Public thanks to 3 facts
    1.graduating rates of 80% to 85% against 23% to 25%
    2.- students complete in 100% to 120% of time instead of 150% to 200% minimum
    3.-placement of 70% against 0% in public colleges
    So public colleges are trying to destroy private colleges

  2. The White House published on August 2013 the expenses for Private and Public Education
    Totall cost in pell and loans equal 170 billons
    Public education 75% private 25% same kind of Pell and Loans
    Plus in addition the states provide 70 % to public
    For tuition .what are they using with so much extra money ?

  3. Private education is better than Public for 3 facts
    1.-private graduating rate is 80% to 85% and Public colleges is 23% to 26%
    2.-Completion time is in 100% to 120% and public is 150% to 250% of the time allowed
    3.-Placement rate is 70% against 0% in public because they don’t place students that finally graduated

Submit a letter

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *