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After Years of Growth, College Enrollment Declines Slightly

Between 2000 and 2005, college enrollment grew by 15 percent. From 2005 to 2010, it increased another 20 percent. But the surge has come to a halt.

The latest trends report issued from the College Board Wednesday shows that in 2011, there were 0.2 percent fewer students going on to postsecondary education.

However, some sectors experienced gains, such as public four-year institutions. Here's a breakdown of enrollment for several categories between 2010 and 2011:

  • Public four-year institutions up 1.6 percent (123,000);
  • Private, nonprofit four-year institutions up 1.7 percent (66,000);
  • Public, two-year colleges down 2.2 percent (159,000); and
  • For-profit two-year colleges down 2.8 percent (68,000).

Still, there were 1.9 million more full-time undergraduate students in 2011 than 2005.

Where are these new students going? Public four-year colleges enrolled 40 percent of these students; 28 percent were in the for-profit sector; 20 percent in public two-year institutions, and 12 percent in private non-profits.

The College Board breaks down enrollment patterns by state and reports Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, and Texas had the largest college enrollment gains, while the District of Columbia, Louisiana, Illinois, California, and Delaware experienced the smallest growth between 2010 and 2011.

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