Education Progress

How many undergraduate students enroll in community colleges?

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How many undergraduate students enroll in community colleges?

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Numbers of students reflect U.S. citizens and permanent residents only; they do not include foreign nationals with temporary visas.

Main Finding

The more than 1,000 community colleges in the United States are an important and relatively inexpensive gateway for students entering higher education. In every year of the last decade, more than 4 in 10 undergraduate students, both women and men, enrolled in community college.

Minority undergraduate students are more likely than white undergraduates to attend community colleges.

Key Observations

  • The percentage of female undergraduate students enrolled in community colleges decreased slightly from 44% in 2001 to 43% in 2010. In both years, 42% of male undergraduate students attended community colleges.
  • From 2001 to 2010, the number of women enrolled in community colleges increased from 3.4 million to 4.4 million. The number of men in community colleges grew from 2.6 million to 3.3 million over the period.
  • In 2010, more than 52% of all Hispanic undergraduate students were enrolled in community colleges, compared to 47% of American Indians/Alaska Natives, 45% of blacks, 44% of Asians/Pacific Islanders, and 40% of whites. Since 2001, the percentage of undergraduates attending community colleges has decreased somewhat for each minority group.
  • In 2010, community colleges enrolled 4 million white undergraduate students, 1.3 million Hispanics, 1.1 million blacks, about 448,000 Asians/Pacific Islanders, and over 79,000 American Indians/Alaska Natives.
  • Between 2001 and 2010, the number of community college students grew by 59% among Hispanics and by 52% among blacks. The percentage change was much smaller for the other groups: an increase of 18% for American Indians/Alaska Natives, 16% for Asians/Pacific Islanders, and 13% for whites.