Expected Record Enrollments Continue at Elementary and Secondary Schools, Colleges and Universities This Fall

August 22, 2002

For the seventh consecutive year, record numbers of students are expected to enroll in public and private elementary and secondary schools this fall, and college enrollment will break the previous year’s record for the fifth year in a row.

According to “Projections of Education Statistics to 2012,” released by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, 53.6 million students will enter K-12 classrooms this fall, while 15.6 million students are expected to enroll in colleges and universities.

The report forecasts that elementary and secondary enrollment will continue to rise to 53.9 million in 2005, then decrease to 53.5 million in 2010, before increasing to 53.7 million by 2012. College enrollment is expected to rise to 17.7 million in 2012.

The enrollment projections for elementary and secondary schools show variations in growth across regions of the country. Between 2000 and 2012, enrollment is expected to rise by nine percent in the West and one percent in South, but decline by four percent in the Midwest and five percent in the Northeast.

High School Graduates Projected to Rise and Then Decline

The number of public and private high school graduates is expected to reach 2.9 million in 2002-03, continuing a pattern of increases in recent years. Further growth is expected through 2008-09 when the number of graduate is expected to reach 3.2 million. Then, this number is projected to decrease to 3.1 million by 2011-12.

College Enrollment Expected to Set New Records

New enrollment records are anticipated every year during the first decade of the 21st century, as college enrollment increases each year. By 2006, college enrollment is expected to reach 16.3 million, about 700,000 higher than in 2002. By 2012, around 17.7 million students are expected on college campuses, 13 percent more than in 2002. At the same time, as the number of students in the traditional college-age range increases, students in this age range are likely to attend college on a full-time basis rather than part-time. As a result, full-time college enrollment is expected to increase faster than part-time enrollment. Between 2002 and 2012, full-time enrollment is projected to rise by 16 percent, and part-time enrollment is expected to rise by nine percent.

More Students Earning College Degrees

A record 1.3 million students are expected to receive bachelor’s degrees during the 2002-03 academic year. In addition, 633,000 students are expected to earn associate’s degrees, 468,000 will earn master’s degrees, and 45,000 will earn doctoral degrees. The numbers of students earning degrees at all levels are expected to rise between 2002-03 and 2011-12. The number of bachelor’s degrees is expected to increase to 1.4 million in 2011-12, reflecting an increase of 10 percent compared to 2002-03.

The 31st edition of Projections of Education Statistics to 2012 is available online at http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2002030.

More Information Contact:

Barbara Marenus

(202) 502-7391