Enrollment by Level of Enrollment and Attendance Status over Time

Although total postsecondary enrollment was 4% lower in 2014 than in 2010, it was 15% higher than it was in 2005 and 44% higher than it was in 1995.

Figure 20: Postsecondary Fall Enrollment by Attendance Status and Level of Enrollment (with Percentage of All Students Enrolled in Each Sector), 1995 to 2014, Selected Years

Notes & Sources 

Notes: Percentages on the y-axis represent the enrollment in each sector as a percentage of total enrollment. Four-year institutions include only those where more than 50% of degrees/certificates awarded are bachelor’s degree or higher. Non-degree-granting institutions do not award associate, baccalaureate, or graduate degrees. Percentages may not sum to 100 because of rounding.

Sources: NCES, IPEDS enrollment data; calculations by the authors.

  • The public two-year sector grew at a faster rate from 1995 to 2010 than the public and private nonprofit four-year sectors. However, the decline in enrollment between 2010 and 2014 led the share of all postsecondary students enrolled in public two-year colleges to fall from 38% to 35% and the share of undergraduates in this sector to fall from 44% to 42%.
  • There were 1.3 million more full-time undergraduate students and 1.0 million more part-time undergraduate students in 2014 than in 2005.
  • In 2014, the percentage of undergraduate students who were enrolled full time ranged from 38% in public two-year colleges to 71% in for-profit institutions, 81% in the public four-year sector, and 83% in the private nonprofit four-year sector.
  • The percentage of postsecondary students who were graduate students was about 14% throughout the 1995 to 2014 period. In 2014, 15% of for-profit students, 19% of public four-year students, and 32% of private nonprofit four-year students were graduate students. Public two-year colleges enroll only undergraduates.