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For Immediate Release: Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Census Bureau Reports Nearly 77 Million Students Enrolled in U.S. Schools

Press Release Number CB19-190

Graduate School Enrollment Reaches 4 Million

DEC. 3, 2019 — The number of people enrolled in school in the United States reached 76.8 million in 2018 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This is 2.2 million below the level reached in 2011, when 79.0 million were enrolled in school. Enrolled students make up 25% of the U.S. population age 3 and older. 

Classroom Diversity

Classrooms are becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. In 2008, 59% of the enrolled population was non-Hispanic white, 18% Hispanic, 15% black alone and 5% Asian alone.

“In 2018, 52% of the population enrolled in school was non-Hispanic white,” said Kurt Bauman, chief, Education and Social Stratification Branch. “Hispanics made up 24% of the enrolled population, while the black-alone population and the Asian-alone population made up 15% and 6%, respectively.”

Among students in kindergarten through 12th grade, 51% were non-Hispanic white, 25% were Hispanic, 15% were black alone and 5% were Asian alone. Among college students, 54% were non-Hispanic white, 19% were Hispanic, 16% were black alone and 9% were Asian alone. (The proportion of kindergarten through 12th grade students who were black alone and the proportion of college students who were black alone are not statistically different.)

K-12 School Enrollment

Overall enrollment in kindergarten through 12th grade in 2018 was 53.1 million, compared with 53.7 million enrolled in 2011. Enrollment in K-12 private schools was 4.4 million in 2018, not statistically different from the level in 2009, after having fallen by 20% from 2000 to 2009.

College Enrollment

The number enrolled in college in 2018 was 18.9 million; 1.5 million below 2011, when 20.4 million were enrolled. Most of the decrease is due to people age 30 and older, whose enrollment declined by 800,000 or 55% of the total decrease. While overall college enrollment has declined, enrollment in graduate school has increased. Graduate school enrollment reached 4.1 million, an increase of 300,000 from 2011.

The number of college students attending two-year institutions was 4.3 million — a decrease of 25% from 2011 when 5.7 million were enrolled.

School Enrollment Tables

The updated tables provide information by age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, family income, type of college, employment status, nativity, foreign-born parents, attendance status (full or part time), type of school (public or private) and vocational course enrollment. The tables also delve into topics such as nursery school and kindergarten enrollment, the likelihood of enrollment in a grade appropriate for their age, and the percentage of young adults enrolled in college.

School enrollment data are obtained from the Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS is the primary source of labor force statistics for the population of the United States and collects data for a variety of other studies that keep the nation informed of the economic and social well-being of its people.



Frances Alonzo
Public Information Office

Page Last Revised - October 8, 2021
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