Postsecondary Enrollment Dropped by Less Than 1 Percent From Fall 2021 to Fall 2022

New Jersey tops list for students leaving state to attend college, while Arizona saw highest rate of incoming students from outside the state, NCES data show

Postsecondary Enrollment Dropped by Less Than 1 Percent From Fall 2021 to Fall 2022

Photo via Adobe, by Drobot Dean

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Overall declines in postsecondary student enrollment at both the undergraduate and graduate levels since the onset of the pandemic persisted in fall 2022, but the decline was smaller than what was observed at the start of the prior academic year. For four-year, two-year, and less-than-two-year institutions, the enrollment drop was below 1 percent, according to new Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) data released today by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the statistical center within the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Statistics.

The overall decline in student enrollment from fall 2021 to fall 2022 was 0.4 percent, the new data indicate, compared with a 1.7 percent decline in enrollment seen the prior academic year. (Looking back even further, the decline from fall 2019 to fall 2020, months after the pandemic began, was more than 3 percent, or about 615,000 students.)

“This latest release of IPEDS data helps to shed light on the enrollment trends and other postsecondary data that help families, policymakers and the greater educational community make data-informed decisions,” said NCES Commissioner Peggy G. Carr. “The data being released today include fall enrollment estimates that can be disaggregated to glean insights at the national and institutional levels for undergraduate and graduate students by race/ethnicity and a range of other characteristics.”

The new results are based on data from close to 6,000 postsecondary institutions, including four-year colleges and universities, two-year institutions (such as community colleges), and institutions offering postsecondary programs that typically take less than two years to complete, such as trade schools and other vocational programs.

Four-year colleges and universities saw undergraduate enrollment decline by 0.2 percent, or a decrease of 25,801 students, the data show. The percentage decline was higher for two-year institutions (0.6 percent, for a total of 28,713 students) and less-than-two-year institutions (0.6 percent, for a total of 1,745 students).

Meanwhile, the data show a larger decline (13.1 percent) in the total number of students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels enrolled exclusively in distance education courses from fall 2021 (5,660,378) to fall 2022 (4,918,059). In fall 2020, the number was 8,883,577 students.

The new NCES data provide breakdowns not only by institution type, but also by selected student characteristics, including gender, race/ethnicity, and U.S. residency status.

For example, undergraduate enrollment at four-year institutions increased between fall 2021 and fall 2022 for men (0.3 percent), Asians (2.2 percent), Black or African Americans (0.5 percent), Hispanic or Latinos (3.7 percent) and students of two or more races (1.2 percent) from fall 2021 to fall 2022. Also, at less-than-two-year institutions, undergraduate enrollment rose between fall 2021 and fall 2022 for men (0.3 percent), American Indian or Alaska Natives (13.3 percent), Asians (2.0 percent), and Hispanic or Latinos (3.3 percent).

The new data release also sheds light on the extent to which students attend postsecondary institutions outside of their home state, territory, or country. Arizona had the highest positive net migration, which indicates more students coming into the state than leaving to attend programs elsewhere. For Arizona, the net migration was 21,452 students for fall 2021 to fall 2022. The largest negative net migration was for New Jersey (-27,652 students), followed by Texas (-19,838 students) and Illinois (-18,324 students).

The new NCES data being released today are from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), a system of interrelated surveys conducted annually by NCES. IPEDS gathers information from U.S. colleges, universities, and technical and vocational institutions eligible to participate in any of the Title IV federal student financial aid programs.

The provisional spring collection release includes data from close to 6,000 Title IV institutions. Institutions that complete IPEDS surveys each year include research universities, state colleges and universities, private religious and liberal arts colleges, for-profit institutions, community and technical colleges, non-degree-granting institutions such as cosmetology schools, and others. NCES plans to release the final spring collection data in spring 2025.

To access the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System data released today, please visit https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/use-the-data.

Key Findings

Fall Enrollment

  • For undergraduate students, the enrollment decrease from fall 2021 to fall 2022 was greater at two-year and less-than-two-year institutions than at four-year institutions.
    • Less-than-two-year institutions
      • Fall 2021 to fall 2022: Decrease of 1,745 students (-0.6%)
        • Enrollment was up for:
          • Men (0.3%)
          • American Indian or Alaska Natives (13.3%), Asians (2.0%), and Hispanic or Latinos (3.3%)
        • Enrollment was down for:
          • Women (-1.0%)
          • Black or African Americans (-2.4%), Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders (-22.3%), Whites (-3.5%), students of two or more races (1.2%), and U.S. nonresidents (-6.0%)
    • Two-year institutions
      • Fall 2021 to fall 2022: Decrease of 28,713 students (-0.6%)
        • Enrollment was up for:
          • Men (1.7%)
          • American Indian or Alaska Natives (1.3%), Asians (0.2%), Hispanic or Latinos (3.3%), students of two or more races (0.2%), and U.S. nonresidents (6.8%)
        • Enrollment was down for:
          • Women (-2.2%)
          • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders (-5.2%) and Whites (-3.1%)
    • Four-year institutions
      • Fall 2021 to fall 2022: Decrease of 25,801 students (-0.2%)
        • Enrollment was up for:
          • Men (0.3%)
          • Asians (2.2%), Black or African Americans (0.5%), Hispanic or Latinos (3.7%), and students of two or more races (1.2%)
        • Enrollment was down for:
          • Women (-0.6%)
          • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders (-6.5%), Whites (-2.1%), and U.S. nonresidents (-0.9%)
  • For graduate students, enrollment decreased from fall 2021 to fall 2022 by 28,968 students (-0.9%)
    • Enrollment was up for:
      • Asians (0.5%), Hispanic or Latinos (0.4%), students of two or more races (0.9%), and U.S. nonresidents (18.4%)
    • Enrollment was down for:
      • Men (-0.2) and women (-1.3%)
      • American Indian or Alaska Natives (-4.0%), Black or African Americans (-3.1%), Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders (-5.5%), and Whites (-5.4%)

Human Resources

  • For number and adjusted nine-month average salaries of full-time instructional staff
    • For the rank of Professor at four-year institutions
      • Public: Men’s salaries are 13.4% higher than women’s salaries
      • Private nonprofit: Men’s salaries are 16.3% higher than women’s salaries
    • For the rank of Professor at two-year institutions
      • Public: Men’s salaries are 3.0% higher than women’s salaries
      • Private nonprofit: Men’s salaries are 26.8% higher than women’s salaries
    • For the rank of Assistant Professor at four-year institutions
      • Public: Men’s salaries are 9.2% higher than women’s salaries
      • Private nonprofit: Men’s salaries are 9.0% higher than women’s salaries
    • For the rank of Assistant Professor at two-year institutions
      • Public: Men’s salaries are 2.4% higher than women’s salaries
      • Private nonprofit: Men’s salaries are 10.8% lower than women’s salaries

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The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System, is the statistical center of the U.S. Department of Education and the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations. NCES fulfills a congressional mandate to collect, collate, analyze, and report complete statistics on the condition and progress of American education; conduct and publish reports; and review and report on education activities internationally.

Follow NCES on X (formerly Twitter)FacebookLinkedIn, and YouTube and subscribe to the NCES Newsflash to receive email notifications when new data are released.

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is the independent and nonpartisan statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education. Its mission is to provide scientific evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and to share this information in formats that are useful and accessible to educators, parents, policymakers, researchers, and the public.

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