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

Figure 18 represents Postsecondary Fall Enrollment by Attendance Status and Level of Enrollment (with Percentage of All Students Enrolled in Each Sector), 2000 to 2015, Selected Years. For a corresponding Section 508-compliant data table, download the Exc

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.