Enrollment in colleges and universities across the United States has declined for a seventh straight year, according to a study released Thursday.
The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, a nonprofit higher education research organization, said post-secondary enrollment in spring 2019 dropped by 1.7%, or about 300,000 students, from the previous year.
Four-year, for-profit institutions reported the greatest decline. Enrollment dropped to 743,536 students in spring 2019 from 925,532 students in spring 2018, a 19.7% decrease. Two-year college enrollment decreased 3.4%, and four-year public college enrollment dropped 0.9%.
On the flip side, four-year private nonprofit colleges reported a 3.2% increase in enrollment, from 3,686,972 to 3,803,576 students.
Florida, California and Illinois saw the greatest decline in the number of students, while enrollment increased in Utah, Georgia and New Hampshire.
Men vs. women
More men than women decided against continuing education. Male enrollment dropped by 2.8%, compared with less than 1% for female students. Women now make up 58% of all postsecondary enrollees, the study said.
The organization also tracks enrollment by field of study among undergraduates. Computer and information sciences saw the greatest increase in enrollment, up 23,000 students from spring 2018 to spring 2019.
Liberal arts and sciences, general studies and humanities saw a loss of almost 75,000 students during the same period. Business-related majors saw a decrease of more than 21,000 undergraduates.
The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center publishes enrollment figures every December and May, based on data submitted by 97% of all degree-granting postsecondary institutions in 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The group tracks data by the type of institution, state, full-time vs. part-time student status, program level, age and gender.
The center estimates there are 17.5 million undergraduate and graduate students in the U.S.