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Colleges See Drop in Enrollment This Fall

College enrollment in the fall of 2012 was down 1.8 percent from the same time last year, with the for-profit sector taking the largest hit, dropping 7.2 percent, according to a new report released today.

It is the first time the Herndon, Va.-based National Student Clearinghouse Research Center has given national postsecondary enrollment data with real-time indicators during the current term. The figures are based on information submitted by Dec. 1 by 3,300 institutions, representing 94 percent of all Title IV degree-granting schools.

This fall, enrollment at two-year public community colleges fell 3.1 percent over last year. Public, four-year schools experienced a 0.6 percent decline.

The only uptick was at private nonprofits, where 0.5 percent more students attended this fall over 2011.

This year's report is a departure from recent growth in college attendance. In 2011, overall college enrollment was up 0.2 percent and it rose 2.3 percent in 2010 over the previous year.

For-profit schools have experienced the most volatile enrollment swings, with a 14.8 percent surge in 2010, followed by a 3.8 percent drop in 2011.

A report on enrollment estimates for the spring term will be released in May.

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