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College enrollment drops; higher ed leaders growing concerned

More than a third of higher ed leaders "very concerned" about maintaining enrollment, survey says

College enrollment plummeted by half a million students in fall 2012 after several years of strong growth, the U.S. Census Bureau says.

The number of graduate and undergraduate students fell last year after increasing by 3.2 million between 2006 and 2011. The decline was led by a drop of 419,000 in students 25 and older. The number of young students fell by only 48,000.

But the number of Hispanic students enrolled grew by 447,000 from 2011 to 2012. The percentage of Hispanic college students also has increased, from 11 percent in 2006 to 17 percent in 2012, the Census Bureau reported.

Higher education leaders are indeed growing concerned about enrollment, according to a survey released this week by the accounting firm, KPMG.

Some 37 percent of the 103 administrators polled said they were “very concerned” about maintaining enrollment levels. That’s compared to 23 percent who gave the same answer in last year’s survey, the firm said in a news release.

To solve the problem, nearly 60 percent of those surveyed said they will be putting more resources into online education and other technology.

“Higher education leaders are keenly aware that parents have lower credit scores as a result of the downturn and are facing tighter loan underwriting standards,” Milford McGuirt, KPMG’s national audit sector leader for higher education & not-for-profits, said in the release. “Education leaders are increasingly squaring up to this reality and are thinking critically about steps they can take to make college more affordable and accessible without compromising quality.”

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