From 2019 to 2021 undergraduate enrollment fell 7.8%, the largest 2 year drop we’ve seen in the past 50 years. Because of this low enrollment, 53 colleges closed permanently between 2019 and 2022, and many more colleges merged with other schools. So what is causing this low enrollment?
One of the biggest reasons less students are enrolling in college is rising education costs. College costs outpaced both inflation and family income growth for years until the pandemic, and even with the increase slowing down post-pandemic, many families still can’t afford to put their children through school. Many people don’t see the point in paying the high prices for education when many Americans with bachelor’s degrees hold jobs that are unrelated to their field of study.
In the wake of the pandemic, these feelings were heightened as many students felt even stronger financial struggles and chose to unenroll from college to pursue full-time employment. Parents who were supporting their children through college were forced to tap into their child’s college fund in order to pay their other bills and were unable to continue supporting them. Nearly 500,000 undergraduates dropped out in the fall of 2021, and this only led to lower enrollment in colleges overall.
Colleges are closing down across the country, with smaller colleges being the most at risk. Learn more about this problem and what to do if your college is at risk of shutting down in the infographic below: