Overall undergraduate college enrollment dipped for the second year in a row due to the covid-19 pandemic but HBCUs reached near-record enrollment numbers in 2021. Colleges lost a whopping 465,000 students in the fall of 2021, according to a new report.
There has been a 6.6 percent decline in undergraduate enrollment since 2019, according to a Jan. 13 announcement by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Undergraduate enrollment in fall 2021 dropped 3.1 percent, or 465,300 students.
More than 1 million students have disappeared from higher education, according to the Clearinghouse.
Arizona, Colorado, New Hampshire, and South Carolina are the only four states that saw a boost in total fall enrollment.
In Maryland, colleges and universities experienced a 5 percent drop in headcounts, primarily driven by a decreased enrollment at its community colleges. The same was true in Virginia, where total fall enrollment dropped 1.2 percent because of public two-year schools.
“The longer this continues, the more it starts to build its own momentum as a cultural shift and not just a short-term effect of the pandemic disruptions,” said Doug Shapiro, the executive director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, in a Washington Post report. “Students are questioning the value of college. They may be looking at friends who graduated last year or the year before who didn’t go, and they seem to be doing fine. They’re working; their wages are up.”
Historically Black Colleges and Universities, however, are seeing a surge in interest, applications and enrollment, theGrio reported. HBCUs reached near-record enrollment numbers in 2021.
Howard University has seen a 15 percent increase in undergraduate enrollment, according to NBC Washington.
This isn’t the case for other colleges and universities across the country. The number of students seeking associate degrees enrolled at four-year institutions fell in the fall with a dip of 11 percent from 2020. At community colleges, the decline in headcounts was 3.4 percent.
Public two-year colleges are the hardest hit, with enrollment down 13.2 percent since 2019.
While some experts blame pandemic restrictions and the trend of potential students opting for the open job market, others say it is due to the high cost of college and students not wanting to be burdened by student loan debt.
“Gee, could it be the prospect of life long debt that is keeping many out of the college track?” asked MountainMermaid307 (@MtnMermaid307) on Twitter.
“that’s absolutely why I ended up not going to college. My parents are in their 60’s and still trying to pay off their student loans,” responded The Hungry Millennial (@THMillennial)
“Well if you can afford tuition because you or your family haven’t had a job due to Covid is one reason. Another is WHY should College Students be forced to pay In School Tuition when they are using Tele-Education from home? The Costs Per Credit Should be Substantially Lowered!” tweeted John Ryan (@JohnRya95081680)
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All indications point to the drop in enrollments continuing.
Only 29 percent of high school seniors applied for financial aid to attend college this year, according to a National College Attainment Network analysis of Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) data through December. That’s roughly the same as last year, The Washington Post reported.
This is down more than 10 percent when compared with the class of 2020.
Photo: Drazen Zigic, iStock, https://www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/DrazenZigic?mediatype=photography