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College Enrollment Projected to Climb, but at Slower Pace

The latest projections from the U.S. Education Department show postsecondary enrollment in the next decade will grow by 15 percent, a much slower rate than from 1996 to 2010 when there was a 46 percent increase in students going to college.

The National Center for Education Statistics released the projections report Wednesday.

Last year, the NCES anticipated a 13 percent increase in college enrollment between 2009 and 2020.

The new report anticipates a 21 percent boost in the number of associate degrees awarded and a 21 percent increase in bachelor's degrees by 2021-22.

A similar drop off is projected at the high school level, according to the report. While the number of high school graduates increased nationally by 28 percent between 1996-97 and 2008-09, total graduates are expected to climb by just 2 percent by 2021-22. Public schools are projected to have an increase in the number of high school graduates, and private schools are expected to have a decrease.

Changes vary by region. The numbers of high school graduates are projected to be higher in the next decade in the South and West than in the Northeast and Midwest. The report does not elaborate on reasons for the regional differences.

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