The number of students enrolled in Virginia’s community colleges has fallen by 16.4 percent since 2011, according to data from the State Council for Higher Education of Virginia.
Overall college enrollments in the U.S. have declined for a sixth straight year, according to new data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, but at the slowest pace since the slide began.
The 1 percent decline this year was due to undergraduate enrollments, which fell by nearly 224,000 students, or 1.4 percent. Graduate and professional programs were up by 24,000 students, according to the center, which tracks 97 percent of students who attend degree-granting institutions that are eligible to receive federal financial aid.
And despite the recent focus by policymakers on associate degrees and certificates, four-year degree programs were the only ones up in the new enrollment data.
Among undergraduates, the center found an enrollment decrease of 2.3 percent for associate-degree seekers and a 10.7 percent drop for students pursuing certificates or other nondegree credentials. But enrollments were up 1.5 percent among four-year-degree seekers.
Community colleges nationwide are dealing with drops in student registrations, according to the Virginia Community College System. Nationally, community college enrollment in the fall of 2017 was down 1.7 percent from the fall of 2016, but that drop was 3.5 percent on average in Virginia.