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Arizona Board of Regents report shows declines in high school students attending college

Posted at 5:46 PM, Dec 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 19:46:17-05

PHOENIX — A recently released report from the Arizona Board of Regents details how some demographics saw a drop in high school students going onto higher education.

The percentage of Arizona public high school graduates enrolled in a 2- or 4-year post-secondary education program fell to less than half in 2020, the lowest in a decade.

The report released by the Arizona Board of Regents states that of the 73,00 public high school graduates, 39,400, or 46.3% of high school graduates enrolled in college, a drop from 52.9% in 2019. The decline in enrollments was mainly attributed to a pandemic-caused decline in community college enrollments, which dropped by nearly 5,000 students year-over-year, a 25% decline.

Enrollments in 4 year institutions dropped as well, but only by six tenths of a point from 28.9% in 2019 to 28.3% in 2020.

Enrollment fell for both men and women

The Board of Regents provided 4-year post-secondary enrollment breakdowns for ethnicity and gender as well and the findings were a mixed bag. More women than men made the transition from high school to university and both genders saw a decline, but more so for men. Women enrollment only dropped two tenths of a point from 33.4% to 33.2% in 2020 while men dropped nearly a full point from 24.2% to 23.3%.

Among women of different ethnicities, African American, Hispanic, and those defined in the report as “other” all saw enrollment increases in 2020, while Asian, White, and Native American women saw declines. No ethnicity of any gender saw a larger decline than Native American women, falling more than six points from 27.7% to 21.1%.

The State’s Three Public Universities

Enrollment from public high school graduates in one of the three public 4-year colleges changed little from 2019 to 2020. Arizona State University fell slightly from 10.6% to 10% of students while Northern Arizona University remained unchanged at 4.2% and University of Arizona saw a slight increase from 5.1% to 5.2%. Three out of Four high school graduates that did enroll in a 4-year college chose to attend one of the state’s three public universities.

Economically Disadvantaged

New this year to the annual report was data for students considered “economically disadvantaged”, which was defined as coming from a household that is 185% below the federal poverty level, a household earning $48,000 a year for a family of four for example.

This group followed similar trends to the public-school graduate population as a whole, the number of enrollments at four year colleges remained unchanged at 19.3% for 2020 while the number of enrollments at two year institutions dropped significantly to 16.8% in 2020 from 24.4% in 2019. Two-year enrollments have fallen continuously for economically disadvantaged students in the past ten years as the high mark for available data was 30.1% enrollment in 2011.

The Arizona Board of Regent report also included a collection of data for public high school graduates that completed a postsecondary education in the past six years