71 Vital College Statistics: 2021/2022 Data & Demographics

College is a huge choice that can impact the rest of a person’s life. If you happen to choose a popular major, then you know that you will have more selections when you enter the job market. Meanwhile, if you go with a specialized course, you can either make or break it when you embark on a career.

That is why you need to think carefully about the path that you take. This is also the reason why we have prepared this article on college statistics. You can learn about how many post-secondary educational institutions there are in the United States, as well as how many among those are private and public. More importantly, this shows you an idea of how much you need to budget for college as well as the state of higher education amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

college statistics

1. General College Statistics

College is a big deal for students; it’s the next step that will take them towards their dream professions. But not everyone is capable of getting there. It can be due to a lack of funds, or maybe students simply did not get accepted to their school of choice. In any case, it is understandable. Ivy League universities have tight admissions; for example, Stanford takes only 4.7% of applicants, while Harvard admits 5.2% of individuals. Nevertheless, the high rate of student enrollment as gleaned from these university statistics allows us to forecast the number of full-time students to hit 12,131,000 in 2020. Get a further look at general institution and college student statistics below.

  • Every year, over 2.3 million people obtain college degrees (College Stats, 2016).
  • In 2016, 61% of the American population has some sort of college education (College Stats, 2016).
  • Meanwhile, as of 2019, 36% of the US population over the age of 25 has received a college degree or higher. (Statista, 2020)
  • 2.2 million (69%) of the 3.2 million high school graduates in 2018 proceeded to college immediately (NCES, 2020).
  • According to a Pew Research Center study, 17 out of 1,364 four-year post-secondary institutions admitted fewer than 10% of applicants in 2017 (Pew Research Center, 2019).
  • Among those were Stanford, which admitted 4.7%, Harvard, which accepted 5.2%, Yale, which granted entry to 6.9%, and Northwestern, which granted entry to 9.2% (Pew Research Center, 2019).
  • The universities with the lowest acceptance rates are Stanford (4%), Columbia University (5%), Curtis Institute of Music (5%), Harvard (5%), California Institute of Technology (6%), Princeton University (6%), University of Chicago (6%), and Yale (6%) (US News, 2021).
  • Around 19.7 million college students attended higher education institutions in the US, of whom 12 million are full-time and 7.7 million are part-time (NCES, 2020).
  • There are about 3.7 million teachers in the US, of whom 3.2 million are in public schools and 0.5 are in private institutions (NCES, 2020).
  • As of February 2021, four US States have officially reopened school buildings despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic: Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, and Texas (Edweek, 2021).
  • Closing its doors on March 6, 2020, the University of Washington in Seattle was the first major university in the US to shut down due to COVID-19 (BestColleges, 2021).
  • More than 60% of higher education institutions in the US partially or fully operate online due to COVID-19 (BestColleges, 2021).
  • 42% of students feel unmotivated after moving from classroom learning to distance learning due to COVID-19 (BestColleges, 2021).
  • Thousands of students were fined and/or reprimanded for not following social distancing protocols (BestColleges, 2021)

Source: US News 2021

2. Private College Statistics

From 2016 until 2019, 20 private colleges and universities have closed. This is because they were unable to cover costs with their revenues due to outmoded business models. Despite the prediction that 50% of post-secondary institutions will close in the next decade, there are still more than 1,000 non-profit and for-profit private schools in the US. Thus, students still have plenty of choices when it comes to their college education. Here are the college enrollment statistics in private post-secondary institutions.

  • According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there were 1,687 private non-profit schools in the US in the fall of 2017 (US News, 2019).
  • There were 985 for-profit schools during the same period (US News, 2019).
  • In the US, the average tuition of fee of a private college is $35,087 (US News, 2020).
  • Together with room and board, the total hits $48,510 per year (TopUniversities, 2019).
  • The American Jewish University and Touro University Worldwide have the highest graduation rate, both of which at 100% (College Tuition Compare, 2020).
  • Meanwhile, South University-Savanah Online and Arizona State University-Skysong have the lowest graduation rate, both of which at 4% (College Tuition Compare, 2020).

average college tuition

3. Public College Statistics

Public colleges are also a common choice among high school completers. The evidence is the number of public colleges available across the country: 1,626 by the 2017–2018 count. They are also popular among students because tuition is more affordable. The average cost in a public college is $10,230 a year for the 2018–2019 academic year.

  • There are 4298 educational institutions in the US as of the academic year 2017-2018.
  • Of which, 1,626 are public colleges. The remaining number are private non-profit (1687) and for-profit schools (985) (NCES, 2019)
  • For the 2020-2021 school year, the average tuition of a two-year public school program for in-district students is $12,850 while a four-year program nets $22,180 for in-state students and $38,640 for out-of-state students (College Board, 2020).
  • On the other hand, College Tuition Compare’s findings suggest more affordable rates, with undergraduate public schools charging $5,514 for in-state students and $12,145 for out-of-state students, on average, in 2020 (College Tuition Compare, 2020).
  • Combined with the cost of room and board, the total is $21,370 per year for in-state (TopUniversities, 2019).
  • For out of state, the cost increases by more than $10,000 to a total of $37,430 (TopUniversities, 2019).

Source: College Board 2020

4. College Enrollment Demographics

Though many people enter post-secondary academic institutions, 6 out of 10 students will not complete college (NPR, 2019). This is due to institutions whose measures mostly serve traditional students—that is, students who obtain their degrees in four years. Here are some college demographic statistics, so you know the people you can meet.

  • Only 67% of males compared to 71% of females enrolled in college immediately after high school graduation in 2017 (NCES, 2020)
  • 78% of Asian high-school completers had immediate college enrollment compared to 70% of Caucasian students, 62% of African-American students, and 63% of Hispanic students in 2018 (NCES, 2020).
  • Of the total, 8.5 million are male while 11.3 million are female (NCES, 2020).
  • Only 10% of the student population in public four-year post-secondary institutions were over 25 years old in 2017 (, 2019).
  • In private, four-year, not-for-profit colleges, the over 25 age group is 13% (, 2019).
  • In private, four-year, for-profit colleges, 39% are over the age of 25, and 28% are over the age of 35 (, 2019).
  • Enrollment in fall 2020 declined by 2.5% due to COVID-19 (BestColleges, 2021).

college graduation stat

College Dropout Statistics

Though many students go to college with determination, some decide not to continue for various reasons. These range from financial issues to the leading psychological stressors in these student crime statistics now becoming common in most schools. To give you an idea of who drops out of college and when they choose to do so, here are college dropout statistics.

  • 40% of undergraduate students, on average, drop out of college (, 2019).
  • Meanwhile, 30% of first-year college students drop out before they enter their sophomore year (, 2019).
  • Students who come from families that have an income of over $90,000 a year have a 1-in-2 chance of graduating college by 23 while the ratio is 1-in-7 for students whose families take home less than $35,000 annually (Washington Post, 2018).
  • 57% of college enrollees do not graduate after six years. Of that number, 33% give up while 24% stay as either part-time or full-time (CreditDonkey, 2019).
  • 40% of college dropouts had parents who did not finish college (, 2019).
  • 38% of Caucasians did not finish college; meanwhile, the rate among Asians is 36.2% and 62% for African-Americans (CreditDonkey, 2019).
  • 31% cited money matters for dropping out, citing high tuition costs while 54% said they dropped out because of difficulties in balancing work and study (CreditDonkey, 2019).

International Students

But on the bright side, college enrollment has increased across the board for different races. Asians remain ahead of Caucasians while the numbers for Hispanic and African-American students are optimistic. There are other college demographics statistics of note, too, such as the number of males and females enrolled, as well as the population of international students.

  • 1,095,299 international students were admitted to the US for the 2018/2019 academic year (this number includes graduate, non-degree, and optional practical training programs, aside from undergraduate) (IIE, 2019).
  • International students contributed $44.7 billion to the US economy in 2018 (IIE, 2019).
  • The number of Chinese and South Korean students increased while those of Saudi Arabian nationals decreased in 2018–2019 (IIE, 2019).
  • Bangladesh, Brazil, Nigeria, and Pakistan are emerging market countries for international admissions (IIE, 2019).
  • In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, almost 40,000 international students have opted not to enroll in US colleges. This resulted in a 43% drop in international student enrollments in the country (Washington Post, 2020).
  • The decline in international student enrollment due to the pandemic has cost the US $1.8 billion in 2020. (CNBC, 2020)

5. Most Popular Majors in College

For students, whether local or international, the best fields of study are related to business and science. While many majors are within the capability of students with financial assistance, there are those that are still exorbitant. Take, for example, this list of the 10 most expensive degrees in the US.

  • The most popular fields of study in the 2016–2017 school year were business, health professions and related programs, social sciences and history, precision production, biological and biomedical sciences, and engineering (NCES, 2018).
  • In terms of degrees conferred in the 2017-2018 academic year, the most popular majors are business (386,000 degrees), health-related programs (245,000 degrees), social sciences and history (160,000 degrees), engineering (122,000 degrees), and biological and biomedical sciences (119,000 degrees) (NCES, 2020).
  • STEM fields are the most popular among international students, with 51.6% pursuing such majors (IIE, 2019).
  • Math and computer science and business and management follow with engineering next (IIE, 2019).

Popular Majors in College among Foreign Students 2018–2019

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Source: IIE

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6. College Costs and Student Loan Debts

Though college education is a ticket to a better-paying job, it comes at a steep price. In the past 30 years, public college tuition increased $6,870, while private college tuition increased $18,820. This has caused the total annual cost of the top 12 most expensive colleges in the United States to skyrocket. This has resulted in the national student debt to balloon to $1.56 trillion in 2020. If you are looking for ways to save up, you can look at these tips to save on school supplies.

  • Four-year public college tuition increased by $6,870 in the past 30 years, averaging $229 per year (, 2019).
  • Four-year private college tuition increased $18,820 for the same period, with an average of $627.33 increment per year (, 2019).
  • The budget for a private college education averages at $54,880 for the 2020–2021 academic year (College Board, 2020).
  • Among Flagship Universities, the Pennsylvania State University has the highest cost for in-state students at $18,436 per year. Surprisingly, it does not have the highest tuition for out-of-state enrollees. That distinction goes to the University of Michigan, which costs $47,476 a year for non-native students but only $14,826 for native students (Valuepenguin, 2021).
  • $1.5 trillion was the total student debt in 2019 (, 2019).
  • For 2020, the total is $1.56 trillion (Forbes, 2020).
  • The average student loan debt is $32,731 (Forbes, 2020).
  • There are 44.7 million borrowers in the US (Forbes, 2020).
  • California has the most borrowers, with 3.8 million students who have a total balance of $135 billion (Forbes, 2020).
  • Meanwhile, Utah has the lowest average debt, with $19,728 per student in 2018 (Forbes, 2020).
  • Students with higher student loans are less likely to drop out than those with lower loans or without loans (, 2019).
  • Students 19 years old and under are less likely to drop out of college (, 2019).

student debt statistics

Job Outlook for College Graduates

Despite the difficulties of college, especially when it comes to cost, there are considerable benefits to holding a bachelor’s degree. Those who do have can earn more and enjoy better benefits when it comes to retirement funds. Still, college graduates have to beware, as some companies are taking advantage of new graduates by not paying well or at all.

  • Baccalaureate degree holders earn 66% more than those who only hold a high school diploma (College Stats, 2016).
  • They are also expected to account for over 83% of new hires among the class of 2020 (NACE, 2021).
  • College attendees are 71% more likely to be employed full-time but 9% less than individuals who did not go to college but have high credentials (, 2019).
  • Individuals with no college education but have high credentials also are 15% more likely to have health insurance than those that completed college (, 2019).
  • However, college graduates fare better when it comes to retirement funds (46%) and are generally more satisfied (64%) (, 2019).
  • The average starting salary of a college graduate is around $50,000 (Indeed, 2021).
  • 42.3% of employers plan to increase the starting salaries of college graduates in 2021 (NACE, 2021).
  • The majors that had the highest starting salaries in 2020 are engineering ($69,961), computer science ($67,411), math and sciences ($62,488), business ($57,939), and social sciences ($57,425) (NACE, 2020).
  • The unemployment rate of college graduates as of December 2020 is 8.5% (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021).

Source: NACE 2020

Get Ready for College with the Right Tools

Pursuing a college education is one of the most momentous life decisions. You have to be careful when making a choice, as a misstep could be costly. Hopefully, this article has given you an idea of the current college climate. With it, you get an inkling of what to expect and prepare yourself, particularly financially, and find a distance learning course while the world is still dealing with COVID-19.

Though money is a big deal in college decision-making, there are other things you have to consider—and that is your student tech stack. If your school provides you with free subscriptions to software or apps during enrollment, then great! But if the case is the contrary, there are costless solutions that can still help. For example, there are providers of office software that are free or have special discounts for students. What’s great about them is that there are vendors that have mobile and cloud-based versions of their applications. This means you can take your coursework anywhere!

Additionally, you can take advantage of productivity management software. There is a wide variety of tools in this category, including checklists and note-taking apps. Many are free-to-use, too. By using these solutions, you can keep track of the things you need to do as well as deadlines.

And, it may still be a long way from now, but it pays to think this early of how you can pay your student loans.



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Allan Jay

By Allan Jay

Allan Jay is FinancesOnline’s resident B2B expert with over a decade of experience in the SaaS space. He has worked with vendors primarily as a consultant in the UX analysis and design stages, lending to his reviews a strong user-centric angle. A management professional by training, he adds the business perspective to software development. He likes validating a product against workflows and business goals, two metrics, he believes, by which software is ultimately measured.

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