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Report Finds Pace of College-Enrollment Growth Slows

New figures out from the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics show college enrollment increasing, but at a slower rate than in the past.

The number of students in postsecondary institutions in the fall of 2010 was 21.6 million, up 2.8 percent from the year before. From 2008 to 2009, enrollment grew by 7.1 percent to just under 21 million. The First Look report, released yesterday, is based on data from more than 7,000 postsecondary institutions through the IPEDS Data Center.

In the fall of 2010, there were 19 million undergraduate and 3 million graduate students — 56 percent were enrolled in 4-year institutions, 42 percent in 2-year institutions, and 2 percent in less-than-2-year institutions.

For-profit colleges are becoming increasingly popular, with their enrollments growing by about 8 percent, while public universities and private nonprofit colleges increased by about 2 percent.

Of the 3.3 million full-time, first-time undergraduate students attending institutions that participate in the federal student aid program during the 2009-10 academic year, about 82 percent received financial aid compared to 79 percent the previous year. Student loan borrowing increased from 51 percent to 53 percent for full-time, first-time undergraduate students, according to the report.

Tuition continued to rise in all sectors, except for proprietary schools. For students at public 4-year institutions, the average price before aid was approximately $16,900 and net price was about $10,200; for those attending nonprofit 4-year institutions, average price before aid was roughly $32,700 and net price was about $16,700; and for those attending for-profit 4-year institutions, average price before aid was approximately $27,900 and net price was about $23,800.

Six-year graduation rates were up slightly from 57 percent last year to 58 percent in this year's report for first-time, full-time degree-seeking students who enrolled at 4-year institutions in 2004. Completion rates were 65 percent at private nonprofit institutions, compared with 56 percent at public colleges, and 28 percent at private for-profit institutions.

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