October 29, 2009

College Enrollment Hits All-Time High, Fueled by Community College Surge

VI. Looking Ahead to 2009

The U.S. Census Bureau’s reports on college enrollment rely on the bureau’s supplement to the October Current Population Survey (CPS). The October 2009 CPS supplement is being processed. It will not be publicly available for many months, and thus it is impossible to know definitively how the 2009 levels of college enrollment compare with 2008 and earlier years.

However, each month the Census Bureau collects more limited information on school enrollment in its basic monthly questionnaire. The share of 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in college can be estimated each month from the basic questionnaire. College enrollment is seasonal, and hence comparison of enrollment across different months reflect that seasonality.

College enrollment estimates based on the September 2009 CPS suggest that enrollment among 18- to 24-year-olds has not decreased from its 2008 peak. In September 2009, 39.9% of 18- to 24-year-olds were enrolled in college. In comparison, 38.6% of 18- to 24-year-olds were enrolled in college in September 2008. Hence, early indications suggest that 2009 college enrollment for 18- to 24-year-olds at a minimum continues at the high levels of college enrollment measured for 2008.