What declining community college enrollment means for higher education

An empty lecture hall.
Enrollment at colleges and universities across the country declined during the COVID-19 pandemic, and community colleges saw the steepest drop in enrollment.
Luke Jones via Flickr

Enrollment at colleges across the nation decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic, and community colleges have seen the steepest declines. Overall college attendance decreased by 5 percent last spring compared to the year before. At community colleges, enrollment was down by 9.5 percent.

Enrollment at Minnesota’s community colleges has declined steadily over the past decade. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, those declines became more sharp. Last fall, enrollment decreased 5 percent, according to data from Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. 

Host Angela Davis discussed enrollment trends at community colleges in Minnesota with Minnesota State Colleges and Universities chancellor Devinder Malhotra, and asked a higher education reporter what community college enrollment says about higher education. 


  • Devinder Malhotra is the chancellor of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. 

  • Lee Gardner is a senior writer for the Chronicle of Higher Education. 

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