Fall 2023 Sees Increases for Community College and Undergraduate Enrollment

March 18, 2024

Share this

Title: Current Term Enrollment Estimates: Fall 2023

Authors: Allyson Gardner, Mohamed Ibrahim, Sarah Karamarkovich, and Hee Sun Kim

Source: National Student Clearinghouse Research Center

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s most recent Current Term Enrollment Estimates (CTEE) report has yielded a range of insightful trends from fall 2023 enrollment, using data collected in mid-October.

Undergraduate enrollment increased for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, by a total of 1.2 percent. Although more than two-thirds of states saw increases in undergraduate enrollment last fall, community colleges and academic programs that are two years and under saw the largest increases.

The CTEE series is published every January and May. It provides national enrollment estimates by credential type, institutional sector, enrollment intensity, age group, gender, major field, as well as state-level enrollment estimates. These reports help capture a comprehensive national outlook on enrollment, as the institutions actively submitting enrollment data cover 97 percent of the total matriculation at Title IV, degree-granting institutions in the United States.

Some highlights from the latest CTEE report:

  • Two-year institutions saw the largest growth of all types of institutions at 2.6 percent, an increase of 118,000 students.
  • Associate degree enrollment had the largest increase (2.2 percent) among all degree programs. This is the first time enrollment in associate degree programs has increased since National Student Clearinghouse began tracking enrollment by credential types in 2015.
  • There has also been a widening gap in enrollment at two-year institutions with different offerings. At community colleges with a high focus on vocational programs, enrollment grew 16 percent, an increase of 112,00 students, bringing total enrollment above fall 2019 levels. However, traditional transfer-focused institutions had a smaller increase (0.2 percent), and enrollment at these institutions is nearly 20 percent lower than fall 2019 levels.
  • While there was a resurgence in undergraduate enrollment, the minuscule increase in graduate enrollment (0.6 percent) did not compensate for the previous year’s decline in matriculation in graduate education.

To read the full report and view data dashboards from the National Student Clearinghouse Center, click here.

—Austin Freeman

If you have any questions or comments about this blog post, please contact us.

Keep Reading

Discovering Hidden Barriers to Community College Enrollment and Success

When students apply to a community college, they expect enrollment to be a clear, orderly process. Unfortunately, for far too many students, it feels more like a maze, full of unknown steps, unfamiliar terminology and unexpected delays.
David Bevevino of the Education Advisory Board looks at how community college student onboarding is like a game of Chutes and Ladders—and what institutions can do to change it.

October 24, 2016

Erasing the Community College Stigma

ACE’s Jon Turk argues that community colleges are the solution to many of the challenges we face around higher education affordability, access, and success. But how do we convince students and families of their value?

June 26, 2019

Reducing Barriers to Transfer for Community College Students

While access to a high-quality and affordable college education is essential, access means little if students are unable to meet their educational goals once they arrive, writes Jon Turk. A new brief from ACE and Hobsons explores upward transfer—the movement from a community college to a four-year institution—for students who matriculate soon after high school.

May 1, 2017