Colleges in the 1980s

July 27, 1984

Report Outline
Enrollment Trends
Federal Influence
Facing the Future
Special Focus

Enrollment Trends

Sharp Falloff in Enrollment Anticipated

College isn't what it used to be. No longer is it a bastion for 18- to 22-year-old white males from upper-income families. Most college students now are women. Most freshmen are enrolled in two-year community colleges, the low-budget newcomer to postsecondary education. Students older than age 25 account for more than one-third of all college enrollments. Largely because of this older group, 40 percent of all students now are part time. Enrollment of blacks and other minorities grew faster over the last decade than any other segment of the campus population, accounting for one out of every seven students.

While these figures represent historic changes in American higher education, they amount to little more than statistical curiosities to parents struggling to cope with figures of another sort: the spiraling cost of their children's college education. The National Center for Education Statistics estimated the average cost for a resident student at a public, four-year college in the 1983–84 school year to be about $3,200. The comparable estimate for the average private college was $7,500. Costs for the 1984–85 academic year are expected to rise 7–9 percent, an improvement over double-digit increases of the past three years. Still, the projected increase is double the inflation rate, which registered 3.7 percent for the year ending in June.

College administrators say tuition and fees have risen sharply in the 1980s to compensate for the inflation of the 1970s that outpaced increases in the cost of college. Reagan administration cutbacks in higher education aid programs have placed additional pressure on parents and students whose federal grants and loans have been reduced or lost altogether. The College Board estimated that the value of all student aid, adjusted for inflation, dropped 21 percent between 1980–81 and 1983–84.

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Oct. 26, 2018  Issues in Higher Education
Nov. 20, 2015  Greek Life on Campus
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Jan. 02, 2015  College Rankings
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Jan. 07, 2011  Career Colleges
Apr. 21, 2000  Community Colleges
Feb. 16, 1996  Academic Politics
Jan. 05, 1990  What Should College Students Be Taught?
Jul. 27, 1984  Colleges in the 1980s
Jan. 23, 1981  Plight of America's Black Colleges
Apr. 11, 1980  College Admissions
Sep. 06, 1974  College Recruiting
Mar. 01, 1974  Academic Tenure
Sep. 14, 1966  Graduate School Crush
Undergraduate and Graduate Education