The Devastating Effects of the Pandemic on Black Enrollments in Higher Education

A new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center finds that enrollments of undergraduate and graduate students, fell a further 4.1 percent or 685,000 students in spring 2022 compared to spring 2021. This follows a 3.5 percent drop last spring, for a total two-year decline of 7.4 percent or nearly 1.3 million students since spring 2020.

The report has data by race and ethnicity only for first-year students. This spring there were 4.2 percent more first-year students than a year ago when the pandemic had its most significant impact. Overall first-year enrollments are very close to what they were before the pandemic began.

But for Blacks, first-year enrollments are down 6 percent this spring compared to a year ago. This comes on top of a 13 percent decline from 2020 to 2021. Overall, there were 45,077 first-year Black students enrolled in higher education when the pandemic hit. This spring there were 36,655. First-year enrollments for White students are up slightly this spring.

Black first-year enrollments at private, nonprofit educational institutions are down 10.4 percent this year. At public, four-year colleges and universities, Black first-year enrollments were down only 1.9 percent after nearly a 10 percent drop a year ago.

New Black enrollments in for-profit educational institutions were down 5.8 percent this spring, while White enrollments at these institutions were up slightly. A year ago, there was a 19 percent drop in enrollments at for-profit educational institutions for Black students.

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