Jun 21, 2022 - News

Texas undergraduate enrollment drops

Percentage change in undergraduate enrollment
Data: National Student Clearinghouse; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Undergraduate enrollment at Texas colleges and universities has declined by 4.1% since spring 2019 — a sign that students remain reluctant to head to campus since the pandemic began, according to a recent analysis by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Why it matters: College enrollment had already been declining nationally for nearly a decade, but the pandemic accelerated that trend. Just eight states saw an increase in enrollment in spring 2022, according to the analysis.

  • Plus, the loss of undergrads means a loss of revenue for universities, and that's deeply felt at more affordable, two-year colleges, which reported a 13.2% drop from 2019 to 2022.
  • Lawmakers used community college enrollment declines as a reason to slash state funding last year.

Zoom in: UT Arlington saw a roughly 3.1% decline in enrollment from fall 2019 to fall 2021, according to preliminary data from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which has not released spring 2022 figures for public colleges and universities.

  • Enrollment at community colleges in Dallas, Tarrant and Collin counties all dropped precipitously over the same stretch.
  • Yes, but: Enrollment went up at both UT Dallas and UNT.

What's next: There are some signs that students could be returning to campus.

  • An analysis by the National College Attainment Network shows a jump in FAFSA applications for the 2022-2023 cycle.
  • The U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid office has found a strong correlation between completion of the FAFSA form and college enrollment.

The bottom line: The full impact on the future of higher education remains unclear.

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