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Colleges turn to older students to stem enrollment crisis

Colleges turn to older students to stem enrollment crisis

The Hill

Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech
February 6, 2024
Story at a glance

  • Colleges and universities are appealing to older students to help mitigate an upcoming “enrollment cliff.”

  • Enrollment in institutions of higher learning among traditional-aged college students, already in decline, is expected to drop more dramatically beginning in 2025.

  • Some colleges are making it easier for older students to return to the classroom by offering remote schedules, financial relief and childcare help.

Colleges and universities across the U.S. are trying to enroll more “adult” students as their traditional-aged applicant pool grows ever smaller.
Facing a decline in enrollment — and fearing that decline could become a cliff as America’s population of fresh high school graduates continues to shrink — schools are offering flexible schedules, financial aid, childcare and specialized advisors in an effort to appeal to adults 25 and older.
The enrollment drop presents problems both for schools’ finances and, more broadly, for the American labor market, as a drop in the number of college graduates could worsen labor shortages in fields such as health care.
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