A dip in the birthrate means there are now fewer high school graduates, especially in the Midwest and the Northeast. There is also a decline in non-traditional students as people are being slowly absorbed back into the work force because of an improved economy. In all, the number of college students has dropped steadily over the last five years. 2016 is the worst year in enrollment figures, down by 81,000. The fall off can be seen in these numbers – 2011, 18 million; 2016, 15.6 million.
The upswing will not come until 2023, but this increase in students will be represented by lower income students and racial and ethnic minorities who will have more need of financial aid. This kind of shift in the number of tuition-paying students can break a college budget.
So what does this mean, especially for colleges in the Northeast and the Midwest? Savvy college applicants should know.
• Many college are offering tuition discounts.
• Colleges are also offering more financial aid, up 51 cents on the dollar compared to 38 cents on the dollar a decade ago.
• Some universities are offering out-of-state students in-state tuition.
• Colleges have begun to tailor their courses against labor statistics, offering programs and majors with more direct lines to jobs.
• Colleges are targeting lower male enrollment by offering more sports and junior varsity sports.
• Finally, colleges are adding more internships and study abroad opportunities allowing for better career experiences.
Be aware of these new opportunities because of lower enrollments as you look for colleges to attend. There are better offers from some college and universities out there.