Houston Chronicle

First-time enrollment drops at record pace


U.S. college enrollment of first-time undergradu­ates declined at the fastest pace in decades, according to research published Monday by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

In a blog posting, the St. Louis

Fed said freshman enrollment plunged 13.1 percent in the fall of 2020 and that college enrollment overall was down almost 3 percent.

“This is especially noteworthy because, in a typical recession, enrollment tends to rise as job prospects (and, consequent­ly, the opportunit­y costs of college) fall,” wrote authors Oksana Leukhina and Devin Werner.

Perceived benefits from the “hallowed college experience” and the perceived decline in value as classes moved online pushed attendance lower, the researcher­s said. The benefit-to-cost ratio likely pushed some college consumers to hesitate as well.

Returning undergradu­ate enrollment declined by a much smaller 1.6 percent.

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