How the Pandemic Impacted Black Enrollments in California Community Colleges

A new study by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz which is a working paper of Stanford University’s Institute for Economic Policy Research, finds that California Community Colleges have seen a significant decrease in enrollments since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. And these enrollment decreases are particularly apparent among Black and Latinx students.

The author found that enrollments dropped precipitously during the pandemic – the total number of enrolled students fell by 11 percent from fall 2019 to fall 2020 and by another 7 percent from fall 2020 to fall 2021. The California Community College system lost nearly 300,000 students over this period. Enrollment changes were substantial across a wide range of fields and were large for both vocational courses and academic courses that can be transferred to four-year institutions.

Although all racial and ethnic groups experienced large decreases in enrollment during the pandemic, Black students experienced the largest effects. Black enrollment dropped by 5 percent in spring 2019, 14 percent in fall 2020, 12 percent in spring 2021, and 7  percent in fall 2021. From fall 2019 to fall 2020, enrollment dropped by 20 percent among Black students.

The full study, “The Impact of COVID-19 on Community College Enrollment and Student Success: Evidence from California Administrative Data,” may be accessed here.

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