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National Center for Education Statistics Releases Data on Enrollment, Tuition and Fees, and Degrees Awarded

July 21, 2017

In 2015-16, according to new National Center for Education Statistics First Look data, U.S. postsecondary educational institutions enrolled approximately 26.9 million individual students; women accounted for roughly half of these students. Just under 40 percent of the students were enrolled at public four-year institutions, while a third attended public two-year (community) colleges and 19 percent studied at private nonprofit institutions.

Undergraduates accounted for 23.1 million (86 percent) of total enrollment in 2015-16. Just over half (approximately 13.6 million) of all students were white, non-Hispanic, followed by Hispanic or Latino (4.3 million), black or African American (3.6 million), and Asian/Pacific Islander (1.6 million) students. Smaller numbers of students were American Indian or Alaska Native (0.7 percent), two or more races (3 percent), nonresident aliens (4.4 percent), or race/ethnicity unknown (5.6 percent).

The report provides data on components of cost of attendance, including average tuition and required fee charges for first-time, full-time degree-seeking undergraduates in 2014-15 and 2016-17 (in 2016-17 dollars). After adjusting for inflation, average published in-state tuition and required fees increased at public institutions by roughly 4.5 percent to approximately $8,173; published out-of-state tuition and required fees rose 4.4 percent to $18,415. Average published tuition and required fees at private nonprofit colleges and universities grew about 5.2 percent to $27,276.

In addition, institutions conferred approximately 4.9 million degrees in 2015-16. Women earned 59 percent of these awards. Higher education institutions awarded about 2 million bachelor’s degrees, just over 1 million associate degrees, and approximately 1.9 million graduate/professional degrees and post-baccalaureate certificates.

The report is available online.


Lesley McBain
Assistant Director, Research and Policy Analysis