Michigan colleges have posted the nation’s steepest enrollment decline by percentage this fall semester, according to data released Thursday.
The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released a data update for fall 2022 on Oct. 20, showing that Michigan saw its overall college enrollment fall 4.1% this fall compared to fall 2021.
This continues the negative enrollment trend in the state that has ranked near the bottom in the U.S. for the last few years.
Read more: Michigan’s public universities have lost 45,000 students since 2011. It’s about to get worse.
Michigan was the only state with an enrollment decrease percentage of more than 4%, with Kansas being next worst at 3.7%, the data shows.
From last fall to this fall, undergraduate enrollment in Michigan fell 4.6%, the data shows. Graduate enrollment fared better, only declining by 1.5%.
Each of the states bordering Michigan also saw decreases in overall enrollment. Wisconsin experienced a 3.1% enrollment decline, followed by Ohio’s 2.9% dip. Indiana’s decrease was less than 1%.
Nationally, undergraduate enrollment fell by 1.1%, which is a slower rate of decline than reported in fall 2021, NSCRC officials said. While the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is in the past, the likelihood that enrollment will reach pre-pandemic levels is getting dimmer, NSCRC Executive Director Doug Shapiro said.
“After two straight years of historically large losses, it is particularly troubling that numbers are still falling, especially among freshmen,” Shapiro said. “Although the decline has slowed and there are some bright spots, a path back to pre-pandemic enrollment levels is growing further out of reach.”
Read more: Michigan college spring enrollment no longer worst in nation after data update
The numbers look better when comparing trends from fall 2019 to fall 2022, as the data shows Michigan is not on the bottom of the list for that time period. Michigan reported a 4.9% decline in that period, ranking better than Alaska, California, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Maryland.
Michigan’s 15 public universities have seen enrollments drop 15% since the enrollment peak in 2011, the numbers show. That’s more than 45,000 students, which would have been enough to empty out Lake Superior State University, Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan University, the University of Michigan’s Flint and Dearborn campuses and Ferris State University.
Read more: Tuition increases, falling enrollment, staff cuts: Data on Michigan’s public universities
The tuitions at Michigan’s 15 public universities also have spiked as state government support has dwindled in the last decade. All of them are also dealing with a dwindling pool of traditional college-age students, though University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Michigan State University and Michigan Technological University have seen positive growth.
The NSCRC data for fall 2022 did not break down Michigan enrollment by type of university (public two-year, public four-year and private four-year institutions). The full NSCRC data tables for fall 2022 can be found here.
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