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

August 17, 2001

August 16, 2001

David Thomans

(202) 401-1579

For the sixth consecutive year, a record number 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 fourth year in a row.

According to Projections of Education Statistics to 2011, released today by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, 53.1 million students will enter K-12 classrooms this fall, while 15.3 million students are expected to enroll in colleges and universities.

“While school enrollment is increasing at all levels, families, educators and policymakers must focus on improving the quality of the education being offered to our growing population of students,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige. “Demographic and other factors control the number of students who participate in our education system each year, but through common-sense reforms for our schools, we can do a great deal to increase the number of students who will receive a quality education. President Bush’s No Child Left Behind plan for reforming our education system has challenged us to focus on results and improving the schools that have left too many of our children behind by failing to prepare them for the future.”

The report projects that elementary and secondary school enrollment will increase slowly to 53.4 million in 2005, and then decrease slightly before stabilizing at or near the end of the decade. College enrollment is expected to rise steadily through the first decade of the 21st century, reaching 17.7 million in 2011.

The enrollment projections for elementary and secondary schools show considerable variation in growth across regions of the country. Between fall 1999 and fall 2011, enrollment is expected to rise by 8 percent in the West and about 1 percent in the South, but decline by 3 percent in the Midwest and 4 percent in the Northeast.

High School Graduate Numbers Projected to Continue Rising

The number of public and private high school graduates is expected to reach 2.8 million in 2001-02, continuing a pattern of increases in recent years. Further growth is expected over the next 10 years, and the number of graduates is expected to reach 3.1 million in 2010-11, reflecting an 8 percent increase compared to 2001-02. This growth in high school graduates is expected to have considerable impact on college enrollment in subsequent years.

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 steadily. By 2005, college enrollment is expected to reach 16.3 million, about 1 million higher than in 2001. By 2011, about 17.7 million students are expected on college campuses, about 16 percent more than in 2001. At the same time the number of students in the traditional college-age range increases, the projections show that students in this age range are increasingly 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 2001 and 2011, full-time enrollment is projected to rise by 19 percent, and part-time enrollment is expected to rise by 11 percent.

More Students Earning College Degrees

A record 1,227,000 students are expected to receive bachelor’s degrees during the 2001- 02 academic year. In addition, 569,000 students are expected to earn associate degrees, 432,000 will earn master’s degrees and about 47,000 will earn doctor’s degrees. The numbers of students earning degrees at all levels are expected to rise between 2001-02 and 2010-11. The number of bachelor’s degrees is expected to reach a peak of 1,392,000 in 2010-11, reflecting an increase of 13 percent compared to 2001-02.

Public School Expenditures to Reach $354 Billion

Expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools in 2001-02 are expected to total about $354 billion or about $7,487 per student. Based on various assumptions, per student spending is projected to increase about 24 percent in constant dollars between 2001-02 and 2010-11.

“In 1867 Congress created the first Department of Education with a mission to collect and distribute information about the condition and progress of education in America,” Paige said. “That remains a central mission of today’s Education Department. This 30th edition of the projections report continues a valuable tradition and helps us to understand the shape of our student population for the years to come”.

Projections of Education Statistics to 2011 may be ordered by calling 1-877-4ED-PUBS and is available on-line at