Enrollment And Demand For Financial Aid Grow At American Colleges

February 3, 2011

girl in library picking book off shelfWhile graduation rates remain flat, the number of people going to college and the portion of them receiving financial aid is continuing to rise, according to a report of 2009 data released by the US Department of Education.

The study, "Enrollment in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2009; Graduation Rates, 2003 & 2006 Cohorts; and Financial Statistics, Fiscal Year 2009," pooled data from more than 6,700 colleges and universities that receive federal financial aid.

About 21 million undergraduate and graduate students were enrolled in American institutions in the fall of 2009, up from 19.6 million the year prior. Nearly 62 percent were enrolled in four-year schools, 37 percent in two-year colleges and less than 2 percent in programs that are less than two years long.

About 79 percent of first-time, full-time undergraduates obtaining degrees or certificates were the recipients of financial aid during the 2008-2009 year, up from 76 percent the previous year, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported. Nearly 51 percent of those students took out loans and about 40 percent received a Pell Grant.

Nearly 57 percent of first-time, full-time students earning a bachelor's degree at four-year colleges graduated from the school where they started within six years, the same rate as in the 2008 report. About 37 percent of those students graduated within four years, while almost 53 percent graduated within five.

For the first time, this year's study looked at first-time, full-time students who received grants paid for college, both before and after that aid was considered. At four-year public schools, resident students who received grant aid paid an average of $16,271 before grants and $10,747 after those grants were subtracted from the total. At four-year private nonprofit institutions, the average price was $31,401 before grants and $19,009 after. At four-year for-profit colleges, the average tuition cost was $26,976 before grants and $23,057 after.

The study also examined college retention rates, which has recently become a hot topic of debate among educators, Inside Higher Ed noted. As of fall 2009, the retention rates for full-time students at all types of institutions stood at 72 percent, while the rate for part-time students was 43 percent. At four-year schools, private nonprofit colleges reported the highest retention rates at 80 percent, followed closely by public institutions at 79 percent and trailed by for-profit schools at 54 percent.

Compiled by CityTownInfo.com Staff


"College Enrollments Continue to Climb, While Graduation Rates Hold Steady," chronicle.com, February 2, 2011, Beckie Supiano

"Enrollment in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2009; Graduation Rates, 2003 & 2006 Cohorts; and Financial Statistics, Fiscal Year 2009," nces.ed.gov, February 2011, Laura G. Knapp, Janice E. Kelly-Reid and Scott A. Ginder

"High Enrollers," insidehighered.com, February 3, 2011, Steve Kolowich

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