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Rising Enrollments, Slowing Government Support Among Findings in The Condition of Education 2005

June 15, 2005

Rising Undergraduate Enrollments: Two-Year Institutions Fuel Growth

Total undergraduate enrollment at degree-granting institutions almost doubled between 1970 and 2002, with two-year institutional enrollments fueling most of the growth.   In 2002, undergraduate enrollment at two-year colleges and universities was close to three times the enrollment in 1970.  Projections indicate that enrollments will continue to steadily rise over the next 12 years, though at a slower rate than experienced in previous years.  In 2014, an additional 2.3 million undergraduate students are projected to be enrolled at degree-granting postsecondary institutions compared to the 2002 enrollment numbers.

Recipients of Bachelor’s Degrees Continue to Earn Increasingly More Compared to High School Graduates

New data reinforces the correlation between educational attainment and increased earnings potential. In 2003, receiving a bachelor’s degree or higher, regardless of race/ethnicity, played a key role in salary potential.  Over the past 25 years, the difference in earnings between black, white, and Hispanic bachelor’s degree or higher recipients and high school graduates has increased.  In 1977, black, full-time, full-year wage and salary workers with bachelor’s degrees or higher earned close to 40 percent more than black high school graduates while whites and Hispanics college or advanced degree graduates earned 24 percent more.   However, in 2003, blacks, whites, and Hispanics who received bachelor’s degree or higher earned 60 percent more, 49 percent more, and 57 percent more, respectively, in median annual earnings than their high school graduate counterparts.

Government Appropriations per Student Increase Modestly; Tuition and Fees per Student Increase Significantly

Over the past 30 years, government appropriations (federal, state, and local) per student for public institutions increased only 3 percent (in constant 2001-02 dollars) between 1969-70 and 2000-01.  However, during this same time period, tuition and fees per student increased close to 100 percent, and other sources of education and general revenue per student increased by more than 60 percent.