How Many College Students Are In The US?

With how college tuition is expensive and the admission acceptance rate of colleges is considerably small, you might just be wondering how many college students there are in the United States. Many people associate college with large campuses with throngs of students dashing through quads and courtyards. And this image isn’t entirely false. The number of college students in the United States has increased dramatically throughout the years. The majority of high school graduates nowadays choose to attend college.

In this post, we’ll let you know how many college students are in the US. We’ll give you a breakdown of this number according to state, gender, nationality, institution, etc. This article promises to be informative and educational. Please do well to read through to the end.

Statistics On Number Of Students In The U.S.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ 2020 Condition of Education report, 69 percent of 2018 high school graduates promptly enrolled in college. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 19.7 million students enrolled in institutions across the United States in the autumn of 2020. This figure includes undergraduate and graduate students, as well as full-time and part-time students. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s obstacles, college enrolment has dropped dramatically in the last year.

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Statistics on College Enrollment

According to college enrollment figures, more Americans are foregoing higher education; others may be deferring college attendance in order to save money.

Enrollment peaked at 21.0 million in 2010.

College students account for 10.4 percent of the population among persons over the age of 18.

There are 14.8 million full-time students. 71.1 percent of all college students enroll in four-year colleges, while 28.9% enroll in two-year institutions. Every year, 20.3 percent of all students graduate. In the fall, 3.2 million high schools (or equivalent) graduates will begin college.
After high school, 69.1% of graduates enroll in college the following fall. 63.1 percent of them attend four-year colleges, while 36.9% attend two-year colleges.

82.7 percent of first-time, first-year college students are full-time students. In the United States, 10.4% of adults are enrolled in college, either part-time or full-time. Undergraduate students account for 8.4% of American adults, while postgraduate students account for 2%. Open admissions practices were used by 27% of 4-year universities. Among those who were accepted, 29% accepted at least 75% of their candidates. Thirty percent accepted more than half of their candidates, while fourteen percent accepted less than half. Foreign-born students account for 2.3 million students.

In this article, we’ll be using the 2018 NCES statistics because it is the most recent data released by the NCES on state college enrollment.

Number of College Students by State

California, Texas, New York, and Florida are the states with the most college students, each with over one million students. California is the only state with a student population of over 2 million.

When we consider that these four states have the highest total population, this data makes sense. Popular public university systems, such as the University of California, California State University, and the University of Texas, are also located there.

Alaska, Wyoming, and Vermont, on the other hand, are the states with the fewest college students. Each of these jurisdictions has a student population of less than 50,000. These states, unsurprisingly, have the smallest total populations.

But what happens when you divide the number of college students by the overall population of a state? In this situation, New Hampshire would receive the title for the highest concentration of students, with 11% of the state’s population enrolled in college. This means that in New Hampshire, you’re more likely to run into a college student than in any other state.

Number of College Students by Category

The following data breaks down the total number of college students into three categories.

Academic Level

There are 16.7 million undergraduate students and 3.1 million graduate students scattered all across the different institutions in the US.

Enrollment Status

12.0 million students are enrolled full-time while 7.7 million students are enrolled part-time.

School Type

14.6 million students attend public institutions while 5.1 million students attend private institutions.

The majority of college students in the United States are undergraduates, as evidenced by the data above. Only approximately 15% of postsecondary students study for a master’s degree.

In terms of enrollment status, approximately three-fifths of students are full-time students. The number of full-time and part-time college students was almost equal in earlier decades, but the difference has since expanded as more students choose full-time education.

Finally, about 75% of college students in the United States attend public universities. This trend is largely owing to the fact that public schools and universities typically provide lower tuition rates to in-state students, making them a tempting alternative for those trying to save money and avoid taking on as much debt.

Enrollment in College by Age

The majority of college students begin their studies as full-time students in their late teens. Part-time students are more likely to be older than full-time students.

92.0 percent of college students are under the age of 24. 12.8 million Americans aged 18 to 24 are enrolled in college or graduate school, accounting for 42.1 percent of the population. 74.5 percent of all 18- and 19-year-olds are enrolled in some form of an educational program. In school, 40.6 percent of 20- to 24-year-olds are enrolled.

A total of 11.4 percent of Americans aged 25 to 34 are engaged in the program. Only 2.3 percent of individuals aged 35 and up are enrolled. Students enrolled full-time in undergraduate programs are on average 21.8 years old, while part-time students are on average 27.2 years old. Twenty-nine percent of all undergraduate and postgraduate students were between the ages of 20 and 21. A total of 2.8 percent of college students are under the age of 18. 55 and older make up 0.2 percent of college students.

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Number of College Students by Gender

For over 40 years now, female college students have consistently outnumbered male students. From a total of over 19.7 million students in the US, 11.3 million are female students amounting to 57% of the total student’s number while 8.5 million are male students which is equal to 43% of the total number of students.

Higher education began as a male-dominated field, but as gender norms altered and feminists fought for gender equality, women’s college enrolment soared. For the first time in American history, female college students exceeded male students by 1979. The gender divide between male and female students still exists today.

Many hypotheses have been proposed to explain why so many guys avoid going to college. While some experts relate this enrollment trend to biologically driven developmental differences, others suggest that males are more inclined to choose vocational training over regular education.

Unfortunately, increased college attendance does not always imply increased salary for women. According to the Social Security Administration, women with bachelor’s degrees earn about the same as men with high school diplomas over the course of their lives, but about $1 million less than men with bachelor’s degrees.

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Number of Students in College by Race/Ethnicity

Next, let us consider the number of college students in the United States by race and ethnicity. To see how correctly each racial/ethnic group is represented in higher education, compare these numbers to the most recent U.S. census statistics.

  • 10.3 million white
  • 3.7 million Hispanic
  • 2.6 million black
  • 1.3 million Asian/Pacific Islander
  • 0.7 million two or more races
  • 0.1 million American Indian/ Alaska Native
  • 1.0 million Non-Resident Alien

The demographics of the U.S. population as a whole are reflected in this enrollment data. One significant distinction is that white, non-Hispanic persons make up only 52 percent of college students, although accounting for 60 percent of the country’s total population.

According to the United States Census Bureau, classroom diversity is increasing. In 2007, for example, non-Hispanic white students accounted for around two-thirds of all college students. In 2017, however, the percentage dipped below 55%. Currently, roughly half of all college students in the United States identify as non-white or Hispanic. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has slowed Hispanic students’ progress, with the group estimating a 5.4 percent drop in enrollment in autumn 2020.

College enrolment rates for 18-to-24-year-olds have climbed significantly among Black and Hispanic students since 2000, with the latter becoming the fastest-growing group of postsecondary students. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has slowed Hispanic students’ progress, with the group estimating a 5.4 percent drop in enrollment in autumn 2020. In addition, fewer Hispanic students are applying for financial help, limiting their capacity to attend college.

International students are categorized as “nonresident aliens” because they do not report their race or ethnicity. For the fifth year in a row, the number of international college students in the United States has surpassed one million, with the majority of students hailing from China, India, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia.

The COVID-19 pandemic, as projected, resulted in a significant drop in international student enrollment, which fell from 1.1 million in autumn 2019 to roughly 1 million in spring 2020. According to one survey, overseas enrollment at U.S. institutions dropped by as much as 16 percent from the previous fall. Meanwhile, the number of new overseas students has plummeted by 43%.


This article has been carefully written for your needs. Now you know that there are more females in colleges than there are males. You also know that there are more whites and non-Hispanic is colleges all across the united states.

We hope you found this article very helpful and informative. Please feel free to let us know what you think by dropping a comment

FAQs On How Many College Students Are In The US?

What is the percentage of female college students to male college students?


The percentage of female college students to male college students is 57% to 43%.


What is the most costly university in the United States?


Harvey Mudd College in California was the most costly college for the 2018-2019 academic year, with annual fees totaling roughly $75,000 USD.


What is the distinction between public and private universities?


State governments support the majority of public colleges, also known as state colleges. Private colleges, on the other hand, are supported by private donors and endowments rather than the government. Private institutions are usually substantially more expensive. Students at public universities typically pay various tuition costs depending on whether they live in-state or out-of-state, whereas private colleges charge the same tuition to all students.


How many students receive honors degrees?


Because each school has its own requirements, it’s difficult to give an exact proportion. Because that’s the range most schools use to assess whether a student earns the honors, the percentage is between 20 and 30%.


What does Latin Honors mean?


Because each school has its own requirements, it’s difficult to give an exact proportion. Because that’s the range most schools use to assess whether a student earns the honors, the percentage is between 20 and 30%.



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