Report Finds Second Semester Enrollment Gains

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Undergraduate enrollment for the spring semester was up 2.5%, totaling more than 359,000 students, rising for the second semester in a row following years of decline during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC). 

“Undergraduate enrollments are picking up steam,” said Doug Shapiro, Executive Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, in a press release. “With year-over-year growth this spring at twice the rate of fall 2023, prospects may be looking up for struggling colleges. Growth is particularly promising for new freshmen entering community colleges during spring term.”

While gains occurred across all major sector groups, a majority of progress is attributed to enrollment in community colleges, with overall enrollment growing 4.7%, totaling more than 200,000 students. 

Progress was also attributed to Primarily Associate Degree Granting Baccalaureate Institutions (PABs) and dual enrollment programs, where students are enrolled in high school and college simultaneously.

Freshmen enrollment grew at a faster rate than overall undergraduate enrollment, and this growth was the strongest at community colleges, with an increase of 6.2%. Increases across PABs totaled 11%. 

Students in dual enrollment programs saw growth for the third year in a row, with an increase of 10% — accounting for more than 28% of undergraduate enrollment increases. 

Additionally, graduate enrollment saw a greater increase than undergraduate enrollment this spring, up 3% or 88,000 students, reversing losses recorded last year. 

Despite the signs for potential recovery from pandemic losses, the numbers remain well below pre-pandemic numbers, according to the report.