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CB13-153

Contact:  Robert Bernstein
Public Information Office
301-763-3030

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  TUESDAY, SEPT. 3, 2013

After a Recent Upswing, College Enrollment Declines, Census Bureau Reports

According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics released today, college enrollment in fall 2012 plunged by half a million (467,000) from one year earlier. This decline, which includes both graduate and undergraduate enrollment, follows a period of substantial growth — 3.2 million — between 2006 and 2011.

school enrollment

These statistics come from School Enrollment: 2012. As the nation's students begin a new school year, the Census Bureau releases its annual set of tables on the characteristics of children and adults enrolled in school at all levels — from nursery to graduate school. Among the characteristics examined are age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, nativity and foreign-born parentage.

This decline in college enrollment was driven by older students — that is, those 25 and older. Their enrollment fell by 419,000, while the enrollment of younger students declined by 48,000.

Hispanics didn't follow the trend, as the number enrolled in college grew by 447,000 from 2011 to 2012. Meanwhile, non-Hispanic white enrollment declined by 1.1 million and black enrollment by 108,000. From 2006 to 2012, the percentage of all college students who were Hispanic rose from 11 percent to 17 percent. The percentage who were black also rose (from 14 percent to 15 percent), but the percent of non-Hispanic white students declined from 67 percent to 58 percent.

"This increase in the number of Hispanics enrolled in college can be attributed to the combination of an increase in the adult Hispanic population and their climbing likelihood of being enrolled," said Julie Siebens, a statistician in the Census Bureau's Education and Social Stratification Branch.

The tables released today cover specific topics such as enrollment by grade, the attendance status of nursery school students and characteristics of their mothers, the type of school college students attend (two-year, four-year, etc.) and whether they attend full or part time, students taking vocational courses and the enrollment status of recent high school graduates. The information was collected in the October 2012 Current Population Survey.

Also released today was School Enrollment in the United States: 2011, a report that examines the characteristics of people enrolled in school at all levels using statistics from the Current Population Survey, American Community Survey and federal sources outside the Census Bureau. It covers some topics not typically covered in Census Bureau reports, such as Head Start, charter schools, home schooling and receipt of financial aid.

Although most of the statistics are national-level, some state-level data from the American Community Survey are presented. Updated 2012 American Community Survey statistics on school enrollment covering states and all geographic areas with populations of 65,000 or more will be published in September.

Other national highlights from the 2012 Current Population Survey tables:

  • In 2012, 78 million people, or 26.4 percent of the population 3 or older, were enrolled in school.
  • In 2012, there were 19.9 million college students, including 5.8 million enrolled in two-year colleges, 10.3 million in four-year colleges and 3.8 million in graduate school .
  • In 2012, there were 4.2 million students enrolled in private elementary and high schools (first through 12th grade), down from 4.8 million in 2005.
  • Non-Hispanic white children in 2012 comprised 53 percent of elementary school students, down from 58 percent in 2005. Hispanic children made up 24 percent of elementary students in 2012, up from 20 percent in 2005. Black children comprised 15 percent of elementary students in 2012, down from 16 percent in 2005.
  • Students who were born in another country or whose parents were foreign-born comprised 32 percent of all those enrolled in school at all levels in 2012.
  • While most students are under 25, there were 804,000 students age 50 and older enrolled in schools at all levels in 2012.
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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | PIO@census.gov | Last Revised: February 10, 2014