New Census Bureau report finds college enrollment down in 2012

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, September 3, 2013

Enrollment in U.S. colleges dropped by nearly half a million students in 2012, according to a new report from the Census Bureau released Tuesday.

The biggest drop in college enrollment was among adults over the age of 25, with 419,000 less of them enrolling in college in 2012 than in 2011. This could be a sign of an improving economy, as the number of older students had previously been on the rise throughout most of the past decade, according to numbers from the Department of Education. Enrollment among students younger than that dropped by about 48,000 this past year.

In total, 10.3 million people were enrolled in four-year colleges in 2012, with another 2.8 million in graduate schools and 6 million in two-year colleges.

Nonetheless, these results are contrary to past years’ findings, as 3.2 million new students had entered college classrooms between 2006 and 2011.

Bucking that trend, however, were minority groups, as enrollment numbers were up among both Hispanics and African-Americans this past year. Nearly 450,000 more Hispanics enrolled in college in 2012, resulting in the percentage of college students that identify themselves as Hispanics up to 17 percent from 11 percent in 2011. The percentage of African-American students attending college in 2012 was 15 percent, an increase from 14 percent the year before.

“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,” Julie Siebens, a statistician at the U.S. Census Bureau, said in a release.

A National Student Clearinghouse study released in May found that college enrollment dropped 2.3 percent this past spring, likely because more Americans skipped academic to instead head straight into the workforce.

The president spent much of his summer focused on college students, including the fight to keep federal student interest loan rates low. Last month, he complete a college bus tour in Pennsylvania and New York to introduce his three proposals to make college more affordable for Americans.

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