California community college enrollment plummets to 30-year low, UCLA researchers say
College enrollment in California’s public, four-year, majority-government college system declined 12 percent from the 1980 level through the fall of 2017, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office said last week.
From 2000 to 2017, the enrollment share of the system’s total enrollment of around 1.04 million increased by 12.1 percent. On the other hand, the enrollment share of the system’s total enrollment that went to community colleges dropped 18.9 percent. Community college enrollment of 4.65 million (up 2.3 million since 2000) now accounts for about 28 percent of California’s total enrollment.
The share of all enrollment that went to private institutions, which in 2017 made up the largest public college system in the country, rose from 22 percent of the system’s total enrollment as recently as 2000 to nearly 30 percent in 2017.
The chancellor’s office said the 12 percent annual enrollment decline is in spite of a number of encouraging factors including a 1.4 percent increase in total enrollment, a record increase in the number of transfer students, and a 2.1 percent increase in freshman enrollment.
The numbers show that the state’s community colleges are facing more challenges than just enrollment, it said. The main concern is that many students are choosing fewer college options than they used to.
While the number of students seeking a bachelor’s degree has increased, the number choosing to attend community colleges has decreased by 10 percent, and students are making an ever-greater number of choices, said Cheryl Gilliam, vice chancellor of strategic initiatives and services at the California Community Colleges chancellor’s office.
The enrollment declines were first detailed in the state’s college system report on May 13, which is available through the California Community Colleges chancellor’s office. The report included new data on student enrollment at the California community colleges.
The data also indicate that the average cost of tuition and fees at California community college campuses increased substantially between 2000 and 2017, from $1,077 to $1,935, the report said.
The enrollment decline also was evident when the data on community college enrollment were compared with enrollment for other states, said Gilliam, explaining that