Enrollment by Level of Enrollment and Attendance Status over Time
Since 2000, total postsecondary enrollment has steadily increased in the public and private nonprofit four-year sectors. However, total enrollment at for-profit and public two-year institutions, which increased rapidly from 2000 to 2010, has since declined.
Figure 18: Postsecondary Fall Enrollment by Attendance Status and Level of Enrollment (with Percentage of All Students Enrolled in Each Sector), 2000 to 2015, 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 degrees or higher. Percentages may not sum to 100 because of rounding.
SOURCES: NCES, IPEDS Fall Enrollment data, 2000, 2005, 2010, and 2015; calculations by the authors.
- Enrollment in the for-profit sector, which was more than four times as high in 2010 as in 2000 (2.02 million vs. 450,000), fell by about a third (to 1.35 million) between 2010 and 2015.
- The enrollment decline in the for-profit sector was primarily among full-time undergraduate students. In 2015, these students made up 56% of for-profit enrollment—a decline from 63% in 2010.