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US school enrollment dropped by 2.9 million from 2019 to 2020

Janet Lorin, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

U.S. school enrollment dropped 2.9 million from 2019 to 2020, with those under age 35 attending school dipping to the lowest level in more than two decades.

College enrollment also fell to the lowest since 2007, according to U.S. census data released Tuesday. Most of the decline took place in two-year colleges, which dropped to a 20-year low.

The pandemic has disrupted education from nursery school to college, as students, their parents and schools faced challenges with issues from childcare to online classes.


The numbers also highlight obstacles colleges face both now and in the future, as fewer students fill seats, dorms and dining halls. Colleges, especially in the Midwest, have already been seeing lower enrollments as a result of the pandemic and demographic trends stemming from population declines.

The number of 3- and 4-year-old children of working mothers enrolled in nursery school declined 35% from 2019 to 2020, compared with a 10% decrease of other children that age enrolled in school, according to the census data.

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