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Aaron Pisacane 26 Oct 2021 3 min read

Fall 2021 College Enrollment Trends

What Student Loan Lenders should pay attention to...

Broad College Enrollment Trends 

The National Student Clearing House reported on October 26, 2021 that Undergraduate enrollment was down 3.2% in Fall 2021 while Graduate enrollment grew 2.1%.  If two years makes a trend, then Undergraduate enrollment continues to trend downward that is partially explained by macro-demographic trends of falling high school graduates each year.  The marketplace's view of the value of a graduate degree contributes to its two-year upward trend during the Pandemic.   

Underlying trends that matter to your student loan marketing strategies: 

Freshman was down 3.1% in Fall 2021, but... 

However, Freshman enrollment grew 2.4% at Private Nonprofit 4-Year Colleges.  At 'Highly Selective' (Barron's Selectivity Index: Most Competitive and Highly Competitive) Private Nonprofit 4-Year Colleges, student enrollment grew 11.7%.  

At Primarily On-Line Institutions, the 18 to 20 year age cohort grew 17.8% in fall 2021.  All older age cohorts showed declines.    Age cohort dynamics at traditional colleges: Freshman enrollment in the 18 to 20 year age cohort declined 3.6% at Public 4-Year Colleges and grew 2.2% at Private Nonprofit 4-Year Colleges. While the 21 to 24 age cohort surged 43% at Public 4-Year Colleges and 23% at Private Nonprofit 4-Year Colleges.  

Looking at Race, Freshman enrollment at Public 4-Year Colleges was down 10.2% for White, down 6.8% for Black, down 4% for Native Americans, down 3.8% for Asian, and down 2.3% for LatinX.  The Pandemic's outsized impact on lower socio-economic groups cuts across all Racial categories.  Traditional private student loan credit underwriting models have not helped with access. 

Alternative methods such as the Einstein Risk Score could provide more opportunities for potential students that lack eligible parent cosigners.  This can help lenders increase college access, improve equity and expand diversity in their lending.  To that point, Private Nonprofit 4-Year Colleges showed growth across all racial categories except for White based on their enrollment strategies. 

Students are interested in certain degrees...

The Graduate sector had a 28% growth in Computer and Information and Support Services.  This outlier shows a positive trend where there are more jobs than graduates.  

The Undergraduate sector had declines in all degree types.  However, the lowest declines were Biological and Biomedical Sciences, down 0.4%.  Business Related degrees were also down 0.4%.  Engineering was next with a 2.9% decline. 

Part-Time students declined less than...

Part-Time students experienced lower enrollment declines of 0.8% in fall 2021 compared to 2.7% declines for Full-Time students at Public 4-Year Colleges.  At Private Nonprofit 4-Year colleges, Part-Time enrollments experienced a 0.3% decline compared to a 0.7% decline for Full-Time. This suggests that high college costs, cosigner requirements to qualify for private student loans and the need to work are creating obstacles to attending full-time. 

More about Einstein Higher Edu Solutions and how we can partner with lenders and colleges to meet their college access goals.