Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Chart of the Week: College Enrollment Growth

by Daniel L. Bennett

To start off 2011, CCAP brings you two charts of the week, although they do go hand in hand. The first shows the growth in college enrollments by institutional control. The data represent decennial periods beginning in fall 1869. College enrollment grew from around 52,000 in 1869 to 238,000 by 1899. By 1939, enrollments soared to nearly 1.5 million - prior to the federal government offering student financial assistance, which began with the 1944 GI Bill. By 1969, enrollment topped 8 million, and is approaching 20 million today.

While the first chart shows the absolute growth in enrollment, the second chart shows the growth rate (percentage change) of college enrollments by decade since 1869. As can be seen, the growth rate of college enrollment grew steadily prior to the start of the Great Depression, with growth rates resuming as WWI winded down. The GI Bill likely had a significant impact in providing many returning veterans with financial support to attend college. The growth rate would subside in the following decade, but would resume explosive growth between 1959 and 1969. This likely had a lot to do with passage of the 1965 Higher Education Act, which marked the beginning of the federal government's financial aid system. The growth rate has declined each decade since then, with the exception of the most recent decade in which enrollment growth has resumed.

1 comment:

hockey24hrs said...

Would be more useful if these graphs expressed # students -- not in absolute #'s -- but as a normalized percent of the population.