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Although total nationwide postsecondary education enrollment increased last fall for the first time since the pandemic, that trend was not seen in New Jersey where total enrollment fell –2.2% from a year earlier, according to new data released this week. 

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, total postsecondary enrollment (undergraduate and graduate level combined) increased 1.1% nationwide.  

Growth was highest nationally in enrollment in associate degree programs at community colleges (+2.6%). This cohort had sustained steep enrollment declines during the pandemic and remains –14.2% below 2019 national enrollment levels. 

Nationally, there were also modest increases recorded in enrollment in bachelor programs (+0.7%) and graduate degree programs (+0.6%) during the fall of 2023. Undergraduate enrollment remains –3.3% under 2019 levels nationwide. 

“The number of students in college has finally turned the corner after years of decline,” said Doug Shapiro, executive director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “The small uptick this fall is a welcome change for higher education, but there are still over a million empty seats on campuses today that were filled five years ago.”  

While over two-thirds of states saw enrollment growth in fall 2023, New Jersey was not one of them. Total enrollment (both undergraduate and graduate level combined) declined -2.2% from the year prior. 

However, the decline in total enrollment (undergraduate and graduate combined) in New Jersey was in line with a trend observed throughout the Northeast, the only part of the country to see a total enrollment decline (-0.7%).  

 A breakdown of the state-by-state data shows that community college enrollment in New Jersey was down 4.1% in fall 2023. Nationally, community college enrollment grew 2.6% during the same period.  

Undergraduate enrollment in New Jersey declined 2.5% and graduate-degree enrollment declined 1.1%.