This week NPR examines fall 2020 college enrollment trends. While institutions hoped that this semester would see an increase in student enrollment, once again there was a drop in the number of students attending college. This fall saw a 3.2% decrease in enrollment; this layered on top of the 3.4% drop from last year is a concerning trend to colleges and universities. Potentially this is the largest decrease in college enrollment in the United States in half a century. Community colleges enrolled a freshman class in 2021 that was 20.8% smaller than 2019.
240,000 fewer undergraduates enrolled this fall compared with the same time last year. - National Student Clearinghouse Research Center
Tuition Increases At Historic Low
A new report from the College Board indicates that college tuition “increased at historically low rates for the second year in a row.” After adjusting for inflation, the average college tuition actually decreased. During the pandemic, colleges and universities froze or lowered tuition at a time that also saw steady enrollment declines. “It’s just a reminder that the pandemic is still impacting higher ed and students and families this current academic year,” reported Jennifer Ma, senior policy research scientist at the College Board.
To help alleviate college student hunger, Swipe Out Hunger, a nonprofit addressing hunger among college students, is merging with the College and University Food Bank Alliance (CUFBA), a network of campus food pantries across the U.S. Swipe Out Hunger will now reach over 1,000 colleges. Nearly a third of college students have missed at least one meal a week since the beginning of the pandemic according to Swipe Out Hunger’s research. This is a trend seen across states in community college student populations. Research conducted by the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice indicates that 60% of community college students in 42 states have suffered from basic needs insecurity in the last six years and one in seven community college students have experienced homelessness.
52% of college students reported using off-campus food banks during the pandemic. - Swipe Out Hunger research
The U.S. Department of Education has announced that it is reviving an enforcement division that will be “responsible for investigating whether colleges are abusing federal student aid and posing a risk to students and taxpayers.” The enforcement division had been dismantled during the Trump administration. Industry experts see this as an attempt to crack down on for-profit college abuses, but many hope that nonprofit institutions and online program managers (OPMs) will also be held accountable by the revived enforcement division.
The Jed Foundation (JED) and The Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals released a report this week advising colleges and universities on how they can best support LGBTQ+ students. Research indicates that LGBTQ+ students are “more at risk for negative health and academic outcomes.” The report offers a number of recommendations for institutions including: creating a culture of community on campus, removing barriers to accessing college, incorporating LGBTQ+ scholarship and topics in classrooms, and ensuring that counselors and administrators have training to support the needs of LGBTQ+ students.
Looking to learn more? These upcoming webinars may be of interest:
Supporting The Mental Health Of LGBTQ+ Students: How The Pandemic Has Impacted Health & Wellness 11/4
How To Make Online Courses More Accessible & Inclusive: Compliance, Diversity & Ethics 11/9
October 29, 2021