Community College Enrollment Growth Slows

Community college enrollment, after shooting up in the last few years, is finally starting to slow down.

According to an article by Caralee Adams in Education Week:

The number of students who enrolled in community college last fall was up 3.2 percent from the previous year—a significant slowdown compared with the 11 percent increase from fall 2008 to fall 2009, according to a new report released by the American Association of Community Colleges.

Community colleges have experienced enrollment increases in eight of the past 10 years and represent 44 percent of all U.S. undergraduates. Community colleges have grown by more than 20 percent over the past three years with 1.4 million more students enrolled in fall 2010 than in fall 2007. The additional 3.2 percent last fall translates into 250,000 new students.

The dramatic growth in community college enrollment since 2007 was likely caused by two factors. First, to recently unemployed workers enrolled in community college courses in order to obtain more skills. In addition, community college growth was driven by traditional college students, who choose to attend community colleges in order to save their struggling parents money.

It’s not really clear why the growth is slowing down, since the economy doesn’t seem to be doing much better. The article suggests the decision of several states (in particular the gigantic California) to cap community college enrollment may help explain the trend.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer