U.S. college enrollments declined 4.1% in 2022, continuing a trend that has seen falling numbers at two- and four-year colleges. According to a National Student Clearninghouse Research Center report, there currently are 16.2 million students enrolled in a public or private U.S. college, down more than 1.3 million since the COVID-19 initial outbreak in spring 2020.
Undergraduate enrollment accounts for most of the decline, dropping 4.7 percent from spring 2021 to spring 2022, the report said. The undergraduate student body currently is 9.4 percent or nearly 1.4 million students smaller than before the pandemic.
Community colleges accounted for more than half of these losses this spring (351,000 students) and have lost more than 827,000 students since the start of the pandemic.
Some of these losses can be attributed to the transition from the larger millennial generation to a smaller Gen Z, but even with those demographics factored in, the U.S. college enrollment is on the decline.
Other factors also play roles in the decline, according to an article by Edwin Roman on Yahoo Finance.
- FOREIGN-EXCHANGE STUDENTS. Colleges in India, Africa and Latin America are experiencing a student boom, meaning some students who in the past may have traveled to the United States for higher education are staying home.
- STRONG JOB MARKET. Record-low unemployment is leading some students to keep jobs they already may have and defer college a year or two until higher level opportunities open back up.
- HIGH TUITION. As costs at U.S. colleges continue to skyrocket, this younger generation is weighing the decision between six-figure debt and waiting for a few years.
- TRADE SCHOOLS. Learning a trade provides opportunities for good-paying jobs with less educational debt.
The NPCA Foundation currently funds precast-specific classes and labs at five universities, including NJIT, Cal State-Chico, Idaho State, Kansas State and McNesse State while continuing to seek out new partnerships with other schools. The NPCA Foundation is looking to target community colleges and vocational high school with similar education.