Report Says College Enrollment in Florida is Declining

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A new report, titled “ Fall 2019 Current Term Enrollment Estimates,” shows Florida college enrollment is down by 52,328 students in terms of enrollment in an individual state. Compared to Fall 2018, postsecondary enrollment has decreased in 2019 by more than 231,000 students nationwide. This is according to new research from the non-profit organization National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) Research Center. Based on many factors, such as age groups, gender, institutional sectors and student’s majors, this report is part of an ongoing series of research that provides state and national enrollment numbers to the public.

The data includes 4-year public and private institutions and public 2-year colleges, as well as profit and non-profit institutions.

Since 2015, the average age for a full-time student dropped from 22.3 to 21.8 years old. Dual-enrollment has increased 5.9% for students under the age of 18 at two-year public institutions. This is due to these students taking college-level courses while still in high school.

For the first time in 10 years, the United States sees unduplicated fall enrollments dipped below 18 million students, according to research. There is also a decline by more than two million students. 

Experts say the reason for this decline is a growing economy. 

According to NPR, as the economy gets better, unemployment goes down, and more people leave college or postpone it, and head to work.

U.S demographics are also changing. The number of high school graduates is declining due to lower birth rates 20 years ago. 

The cost of college is the biggest reason for this decline in enrollment.  As states put less money into education, the more universities have to rely on tuition. If tuition goes up, that can cause a stressful financial burden on students and their families. With fewer grants and scholarships, the cost of tuition is simply too much to bear for a student that does not have the means to attend college.

Since the fall of 2017, Florida’s college enrollment rate has dropped from 6.9%, according to the data report. Florida has 933,180 students enrolled in college as of September 2019. 

Certain degrees are also losing steam as far as students pursuing them are concerned. Theology and religious studies are seeing a 9.1% decline in interest from degree-seeking students. Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities (including undeclared) are experiencing a 7.1% decline. 

The challenge facing colleges now is how to persuade students to enroll. With a healthy economy and soaring college costs, fewer people are even considering joining a technical class at a local community college. Indeed, many employers still need skilled workers, whether it’s a profession that requires a four-year degree or skills or trades that need certificates or credentials. According to research, having a college degree means you are less likely to be unemployed and more likely to be able to overcome tough economic times, which are encountered during a recession, for example. 

In order for colleges to gain more students enrolling, they will have to change their business model. They will also have to get creative with recruitment. They will need to shift their focus as well to returning adult students. They may have better luck recruiting them as opposed to high schoolers who are pursuing college-level courses while still in high school.

Colleges and universities being open to change is crucial for the benefit of enrollment increasing with the uncertainty of the years to come.