JUNE 8, 2023 — The U.S. Census Bureau today released a new report that examines school enrollment at all levels in 2021 as well as changes in enrollment from prior years using statistics from the American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS provides data on enrollment in preschool, elementary school, high school, college and professional school. Public, private and homeschool enrollment are also included.
- In 2021, school enrollment included 4.1 million preschool students, 4.0 million kindergarteners, 32.9 million students in first through eighth grades, 17.3 million high schoolers, 16.6 million college undergraduate students, and 4.6 million graduate students.
- High school dropout rates – defined as the percentage of people (ages 18 to 24) who are not enrolled in school and do not have a high school degree – declined from 12.5% of all 18- to 24-year-olds in 2005 to 5.8% in 2021.
- Preschool enrollment declined by more than 900,000 students compared with 2019, and the roughly 4.1 million preschool students in 2021 mark the lowest-recorded estimate since the ACS began data collection in 2005.
- College enrollment continued to decline, with 21.1 million students enrolled in 2021, compared to 21.7 million in 2019 and 23.7 million in 2011.
- The 2019 to 2021 decline in college enrollment occurred solely in the public undergraduate sector, in contrast with the 2011 to 2019 decline, which occurred for both public and private colleges.
The ACS is the largest annual survey administered by the Census Bureau, sampling about 3.5 million housing unit addresses per year. It looks at a wide range of social, economic and housing characteristics for the population using a multitude of demographic variables.
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