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The Ultimate List of Higher Education Statistics

The world of higher education is constantly changing, and that has never been more true in the past year.

Staying on top of the latest developments are crucial to competing with other institutions as student enrollment gets more competitive. Are you staying ahead of the curve?

To help you stay up-to-date, we’ve compiled a list of interesting higher ed statistics that point to recent industry trends. Read on and share your favorite stats on social media!

Admissions and Enrollment Statistics

  • College enrollment hit historic all-time highs with 21 million students in 2010. (Education Data, 2020)
  • 71.1 percent of all college students attend four-year institutions. (Education Data, 2020)
  • 69% of high school students attend college in the fall after they graduate. (Education Data, 2020)
  • 10.4% of American adults are currently enrolled in college. (Education Data, 2020)
  • 24% of students apply to one college while 4% apply to 10 or more institutions. (Guide 2 Research, 2020)
  • Only 9% of college freshmen in 1990 applied to at least seven schools. However, by 2016, that number increased to 35%. (Guide 2 Research, 2020)
  • Two-thirds of colleges reported that their undergraduate enrollment in the fall of 2020 decreased from the prior year. (The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2021)

Higher Education Demographic Statistics

  • 75.1% of college students attend public institutions. (Guide 2 Research, 2020)
  • 60% of graduate students attend public institutions. (Guide 2 Research, 2020)
  • 67.9% of undergraduate students are full-time students. (Guide 2 Research, 2020)
  • 19% of all bachelor’s degrees are in business. (Guide 2 Research, 2020)
    California has the highest number of enrolled college students at 2.71 million. (Guide 2 Research, 2020)
  • 35.4% of U.S. male citizens and 34.6% of female citizens have completed four or more years of college. (Guide 2 Research, 2020)
  • More than 50 percent of all students, undergraduate and graduate, full and part-time were age 21 or younger in Fall 2018. At for-profit four-year colleges, more than 50 percent were 30 or older. (The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2020)

Online Education

  • Spring 2021 saw an undergraduate enrollment decline of -4.5% compared to -0.9% in 2020. (Education Data, 2020)
  • Spring 2021 saw graduate enrollment increased 4.3% over 2020 and three times pre-pandemic levels. (Education Data, 2020)
  • During the pandemic, 42% of students indicated staying motivated was a major problem for them completing coursework. (Education Data, 2020)
  • 43% of students enrolled in traditional face-to-face classrooms have not previously taken an online class, while 21% only took one online class. (Education Data, 2020)
  • The online learning industry is projected to pass $370 billion by 2026. (Education Data, 2020)
  • The AI market is expected to grow over $250 million by 2025 to support distance learning. (Education Data, 2020)
  • Between 25-50% of instructions, assignments and discussion takes place online within a hybrid environment. (Education Data, 2020)

Retention and Graduation Statistics

Student Research Preferences

  • 47% of students use university websites as their top source of information. (Guide 2 Research, 2020)
  • 37% of all student applicants utilize search engines as primary research. (Guide 2 Research, 2020)
  • Email remains the most popular communication tool with 80% of students saying their ideal method of being contacted by universities was email. (QS Rankings, 2020)

Higher Education Tuition Statistics

  • The average cost for private college with tuition and fees was $36,801 and $50,000 at high-ranking institutions during the 2019-20 academic year. (Guide 2 Research, 2020)
  • The average cost for public schools is $22,577 for out-of-state students and $10,116 for in-state students. (Guide 2 Research, 2020)
  • Tuition and fees at private colleges climb an average of 3% every year and 4% at public schools. (Guide 2 Research, 2020)
  • 30% of two-year private non-profit institutions and for-profit institutions relied on tuitions and fees for more than three-fourths of their overall revenue. (The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2020).

Keeping up with the greatest trends in the world of higher ed may seem like a daunting task. No matter how much you try to stay ahead of the curve, student preferences are the only constant change in higher education.

Regardless of your institution’s goals, reading up on the latest stats is a great way to ensure you stay relevant in today’s changing climate.