Category: Blog

Increase in College Enrollment

Despite the rising costs of tuition in recent years, the percent of students enrolling in degree-granting institutions continues to increase.  The new “knowledge economy” is creating higher-paid jobs, but most require education beyond high school.  A higher salary may incentivize the 61 million individuals who are older than 25 with only high school diplomas to benefit by obtaining a postsecondary education.

Total postsecondary enrollment is expected to grow 15 percent between 2009 and 2019.  Although enrollment growth of nontraditional students has eclipsed that of traditional students, the imbalance is expected to shift.  Projected growth between 2009 and 2019 shows traditional student enrollment growing at 16 percent while enrollment for students older than 25 grows at 13 percent.

Growth in Online Learning

Proprietary and two-year institutions play an increasingly important role in addressing some of our country’s most pressing challenges – global workforce competition and an increased demand for a highly skilled labor force, to name a few.  The growth in enrollments at proprietary and two-year institutions has soared in recent years. This dramatic increase has produced its own unique set of challenges, including higher student loan default rates.

Distance learning is creating a new trend in the way college students attend classes and earn their degrees because of the flexibility, convenience, and growing acceptance of online courses.  Besides the advantages for students, institutions use distance learning to address State budget cuts and space shortages.  During 2006-2007, there were more than 11,200 college-level programs designed to be completed exclusively online.  Sixty-six percent of these programs offered degrees and 34 percent offered certificates.  more recent data shows that in 2009, nearly 30 percent of students took at least one online course, nearly three times the percentage in 2002.

Role of Government in College Education

The trends already discussed and the projected increase of student loan borrowers and aid applications will increase FSA’s responsibilities and workload; however, the workforce is not expected to increase at the same pace (As shown above).  For example, by the end of 2012, the number of borrowers serviced by FSA is expected to increase 246 percent from the FY 2006 baseline.  The number of aid applications is expected to grow by approximately 80 percent.  During FY 2012, FSA’s budget and onboard staff are projected to increase by approximately 53 percent and 23 percent respectively.  The increase in FSA’s budget is the result of transitions to 100 percent Direct Loans.  Even though there are increased costs for this program each year, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the shift to direct lending would save $67 billion over 10 years.