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Student enrollment declines worsened this spring at postsecondary education institutions, according to new data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Total postsecondary enrollment in the U.S. fell to 16.2 million this spring, marking a one-year, 4.1% decline of 685,000 students. Following a 3.5% enrollment drop last spring, postsecondary institutions have lost nearly 1.3 million students since spring 2020.

New Jersey colleges lost an even greater percentage of students than the national average. Postsecondary enrollment dropped 6.7%, from 340,637 students in spring of 2021 to 317,972 in spring of 2022, according to the NSCRC data. Enrollment dropped 13.5% at two-year institutions in New Jersey; 4.6% at public four-year institutions; and 0.6% at four-year private nonprofit institutions.

Nationally, undergraduate enrollment accounted for most of the overall decline, dropping 4.7% this spring (over 662,000 students) compared to spring 2021. As a result, the undergraduate student body is now 9.4% or nearly 1.4 million students smaller than before the pandemic began.

Public institutions suffered the brunt of U.S. enrollment declines this spring, losing 604,000 students (-5.0% from a year ago). Community colleges accounted for more than half of these losses this spring (351,000 students) and have lost over 827,000 students since the start of the pandemic.

Since the start of the pandemic, community colleges have lost nearly 20% of students in the traditional age group (18 to 24 years old) and 16.2% of adult students.