No Bottom Yet in 2-Year College Enrollments

June 22, 2018
  • Advocacy
  • Community Colleges
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  • Enrollment

Community colleges are used to declining enrollments when the economy is strong and unemployment is low. But some researchers are warning colleges that future declines are only expected to get worse amid cuts in state funding and more pressure on institutions to produce measurable outcomes.

"They absolutely need to be worried right now," said Christina Hubbard, director of strategic research at EAB, an educational research and technology services company. "We're in an OK spot until 2025 and then a cliff is going to happen. We're already struggling financially, and with the federal government pulling back so much funding from higher education, and when you add the changes happening in enrollment, we have a major problem coming very fast." (
News elsewhere on Inside Higher Ed today about enrollment increases at some institutions due to the reinstatement of year-round Pell Grants is a modest counterweight to the larger trends described in this article.)

Two-year colleges have been coping with declining enrollments since around 2010, when the Great Recession ended and the national unemployment rate began falling from about 10 percent to around 5 percent today.

But when researchers project demographic information to 2025, the declines become sharper.

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