Enrollment in two-year colleges continues to grow

by Grace

As families seek ways to make college affordable, the percentage of students choosing two-year colleges continues to grow.

Enrollment by School Type, Over Time


School choice may be a key driver in containing total average spending.

This year, families reported the highest enrollment in two-year public colleges since the survey began, 34 percent in 2013-14 from 30 percent the previous year. At the same time, enrollment at 4-year public colleges declined from 46 percent to 41 percent. Although the proportion enrolled at 4-year private colleges remained the same year-over-year (22%), the average spending at that type of institution appears to reflect a reduced cost to the families who chose them.

In 2013 the private college tuition discount rate – the amount of financial aid as a percentage of tuition and fees – was “again at an all-time high”.

Not surprisingly, the amount spent to attend four-year schools is higher than two-year schools. The average yearly amount spent for two-year public schools was $11,012, a slight increase of $344 from the prior year but $10,060

In affluent Westchester County, New York, more high school graduates seem to be “choosing community college as a way to save money”.


How America Pays for College 2014, Sallie Mae & Ipsos Public Affairs, August 2014.

2 Comments to “Enrollment in two-year colleges continues to grow”

  1. I think your analysis here is flawed. If the growth in 2-year colleges was about saving money, you would see a shrinkage in the expensive private schools, more than in the mid-price public 4-years. I think that the real message is that states have been choking the 4-years so that they can’t keep up with the demand for enrollment, and the overflow ends up going to 2-year schools, even though they would have gone to 4-year publics if the capacity were there.


  2. I don’t doubt your theory is true in some cases, but I see students who choose not to go to the 4-year publics because it’s less expensive to live at home and pay lower tuition at the local community college. These students often apply and get in the 4-year colleges, but do not enroll.

    There’s not just one explanation for these trends, I guess.


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