According to a report from CNBC, experts are blaming the adverse effects of the pandemic – namely the economic impacts – on why college enrollment rates continue to plummet.



Apparently, there were projections that college enrollments were slated to climb back up during the fall of 2021, likely from pundits assuming that with Covid vaccines being heavily administered through the U.S. population, those who clamored about pandemic fears would be less afraid of returning to school.

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Except, college enrollment rates didn’t bounce back as anticipated, and in fact, fell further. Reports show that undergraduate rates dropped an additional 3.2% from 2020, per the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

When combining the total decline between 2021 and 2020, the number of undergraduate students in college is now down 6.5% compared to 2019 figures, marking the largest two-year drop in enrollments over the last 50 years.

National Student Clearinghouse Research Center Executive Director Doug Shapiro remarked on that matter, stating that things are continuing to get worse:

“Enrollments are not getting better; they’re still getting worse. Far from filling the hole of last year’s enrollment declines, we are still digging it deeper.”

Shapiro added that among the hardest hit in the enrollment rate decline were community colleges:

“As you go down the selectivity scale, the overall declines start to grow. Community colleges remain the most adversely affected sector, experiencing a 14.1% total enrollment decline since fall 2019.”


Back in April of 2020, during the onset of the pandemic, CNBC reported that “community colleges could see a surge in popularity,” citing that economic downturns typically favored well for community colleges historically due to them being the less expensive option in the realm of higher education.

Which community colleges experiencing surges during economic turmoil does logically make sense when one considers that two-year community colleges bear an annual tuition that runs roughly about a third of the cost when compared to in-state four-year public universities. And with private universities, community colleges are about a tenth of the annual cost for tuition.

Obviously, despite being the most economically favorable of higher education, community colleges did not get that “surge in popularity” that CNBC predicted last April.