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College Enrollment Continues to Drop While Tuition Costs Soar

College Enrollment Continues to Drop While Tuition Costs Soar

It’s no surprise that college is expensive, but a new report shows that colleges and universities are still increasing tuition as enrollment numbers dwindle.

Since 2018, there’s been a steep decline in the rate of people going to college, and the primary reason for this decline is crystal clear: the cost of attending college has become prohibitively expensive for many.

In the last 10 years, college enrollment has plummeted by 14.4 percent. In the fall of 2013, there were approximately 19.9 million students enrolled in two and four-year universities across the United States. Fast forward a decade to the fall of 2023, and the number shrinks to a mere 17 million — a loss of 2.9 million students in a decade.

college enrollment vs tuition

Despite the enrollment drop, colleges are bringing in more money than ever. In 2013, four-year public universities charged an average in-state tuition of $9,860 for a full school year, amassing $78.5 billion in revenue. Today,  the average yearly tuition at public universities is $11,378. At private universities, the tuition is even steeper: private universities in 2013 amassed $169.9 billion in revenue from 5.1 million students, while today they bring in $181.1 billion in tuition revenue from 4.4 million students.

But rising tuition isn’t the only reason college enrollment is declining. A report from Business Insider found that Gen Z has realized the salary benefits of a college education might not always pay off in the long run. In fact, a 2019 report from the Pew Research Center found that salaries for young college-educated workers had remained mostly flat over the past 50 years. Four years after graduating, a third of students earn less than $40,000 — lower than the average salary of $44,356 that workers with only a high-school diploma earn. And factoring in the average student debt of $37,388 they’ll be expected to pay back, it’s clear why young students aren’t excited to have a lower net worth than previous generations.

For now, experts believe college enrollment will continue to decline, especially as universities and colleges seemingly have no incentive to lower the cost.

© 2023 RELEVANT Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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