Looking Ahead: Undergraduate Enrollment Expected to Increase By 2030

Looking Ahead: Undergraduate Enrollment Expected to Increase By 2030

Melissa W.

We know commencements just wrapped up a month ago, but we live for education and are already looking ahead to the 2022-2023 school year! College campuses are starting to prepare for the new undergrads to move in and while college enrollment has dipped a bit since 2020, that outlook is likely just temporary.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), “Between fall 2009 and 2020, total undergraduate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions decreased by 9 percent (from 17.5 million to 15.9 million students).” A lot of this is likely due to the coronavirus pandemic that put everything on hold in 2020 with the nation just now starting to recover. 

While seeing a decrease in higher education enrollment is problematic, NCES predicts the years post-pandemic will see a rise again. “Between 2020 and 2030, full-time enrollment is projected to increase by 7 percent (from 9.8 million to 10.5 million students) and part-time enrollment is projected to increase by 11 percent (from 6.0 million to 6.7 million students)” and “between fall 2020 and 2030, total undergraduate enrollment is projected to increase by 8 percent to 17.1 million students.” 

The increase is projected in both enrollment for 2-year and 4-year institutions. “Between 2020 and 2030, undergraduate enrollment in 4-year institutions is projected to increase by 3 percent (from 10.9 to 11.3 million students) and enrollment in 2-year institutions is projected to increase by 19 percent (from 4.9 million to 5.8 million students). For 2-year institutions, most of the increase by 2030 is projected to come from a 17 percent rebound between 2020 and 2021.”

Distance education/virtual learning may be a large contributing factor for the projected enrollment increase post-pandemic. In-person learning was non-existent during the peak and the nation adjusted to attending classes behind a screen. NCES notes that “the number of undergraduate students exclusively enrolled in distance education courses was 186 percent higher in 2020 than in 2019 (7.0 million vs. 2.4 million).” Now that institutions realize that quality learning can be done at a physical distance, it opens the door to more students looking to further their education while not compromising their location or schedule. It’s especially helpful for working professionals and parents. 

We are excited for all things to come for the Class of 2023 and beyond!

Are you currently working at a college/university or looking to further your education this year? Let us know in the comments!


Cover photo by Desola (Sector-6) on Unsplash

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