(KION) College enrollment for recent high school graduates has dropped significantly across all institution types, according to a report from the National Student Clearinghouse, but community colleges are seeing the biggest enrollment changes.
According to the report, community college enrollment went up by 0.7% last fall, but this fall, it dropped by 30.3%.
Four year institutions also saw a decline, but community colleges seem to be impacted the most. Enrollment at private, nonprofit 4-year colleges went down by 28.6%, and enrollment at public 4-year colleges went down by 13.8%.
Researchers with the National Student Clearinghouse believe that enrollment decreases may be linked to unequal effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among low-income students, enrollment across all types of institutions fell by 29.2%, compared to 16.9% for higher-income students. Among various types of institutions, enrollment for low-income students dropped the most at community colleges, which is down 37.1%.
Based on the data, the organization said students from higher-income, low minority and suburban high schools continue to enroll in college more, but this year shows bigger differences.
"During COVID-19, enrollment gaps not only remain, but disparities are magnified particularly for students from low-income high schools," the organization wrote.
Overall, the number of high school students who went to college immediately after high school fell by 21.7%, a number eight times higher than what was reported before the pandemic. The percentage is highest for students coming from low-income (29.2%), high-minority (26.4%) and high-poverty (32.6%) schools.
Based on the data, the National Student Clearinghouse does not believe high school graduation rates have been impacted by the pandemic.