Iowa sees uptick in community college enrollment



(The Center Square) – Enrollment at Iowa’s 15 community colleges is up over last year, according to an annual report presented to the state Board of Education Wednesday.

Data on fall 2023 enrollment showed a 3.8% increase in total enrollment. Part-time student enrollment was up slightly at 0.8%, while full-time student enrollment declined at the same rate of 0.8%, the report said.

Still, Iowa saw a record high for part-time enrollment, reaching 66.7% for total fall enrollment, according to the report.

Online enrollment remains significantly higher than pre-COVID-19 rates, with 51% of total enrollment being online students. In 2019, 38.2% of students at Iowa community colleges were online only, the report said.

Over the past year, students enrolled in at least one online class increased by almost 6% and was 3% higher than in fall 2022, according to the report.

Joint enrollment is also up this year, increasing to 7.9%. That aligns with the national trend of an 8.8% increase in joint enrollment increase by 8.8%.

In Iowa, more students enrolled at community colleges immediately after graduating high school this year, which the report called a recovery from declining numbers from the previous two years.

“A sizable portion of the first time, non-high school community college population is comprised of students directly out of high school. According to long-term, annually stable patterns, this cohort of ‘immediate enrollees’ comprises one-quarter to one-third of all Iowa high school graduating classes, and around one-tenth of Iowa community colleges’ total fall enrollment. COVID-19 seemed to impact the stability of those proportions, but this year’s enrollment demonstrates a distinct pattern of post-pandemic recovery,” the report said.

First-time non-high school students made up for almost 9% of total fall enrollment this year, up by 1.6% from fall 2022, the report found.

Iowa saw fewer minority students enroll at its community colleges – a decrease of 2.7%, down to 21.8% of total enrollment. While some minority groups decreased, the enrollment of Hispanic students was up 8.1% over last year. Similarly, 6.3% more black students enrolled this year, according to the report.

The proportion of American Indian students decreased by 5.2%, and Pacific Islander students decreased by 18.6%, the report said.

Across the nation, enrollment for all racial and ethnic groups was up for fall 2023.

Male and female enrollment was up in Iowa. Women enrolled at a slightly higher rate than men, 3.9% compared to 3.3%, according to the report.



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