College enrollment declines again, Vermont among states with biggest drops

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NEWPORT — The fall 2019 postsecondary enrollment numbers have been tabulated, and the news is once again sure to concern college leaders in Vermont.

Overall, postsecondary enrollments decreased by 1.3 percent in fall 2019, a drop of more than 231,000 students from last year.

Vermont ranked fifth in percentage drop with 4.4 percent decline in college enrollment.

In the last year Vermont lost three colleges, including the College of St. Joseph, Green Mountain College, and Southern Vermont College, with Marlboro College expected to merge with Emerson in Boston and close its Vermont campus.

All four colleges are in Southern Vermont.

“The higher education industry has now shed more than 2 million students since its peak in 2011 and the unduplicated count has fallen below 18 million for the first time,” said Doug Shapiro, Executive Research Director, National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “Most of the pain hits the Midwest and Northeast, even as some states in the South and West saw modest growth.”

For the first time in the decade, the nation’s fall unduplicated enrollments fell below 18 million students and declined by more than 2 million students.

Florida led declines with a drop of 52,328 students, while Utah led the nation with an increase of nearly 16,800 students or a 4.9 percent growth from last year.