Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

New report shows college enrollment stabilizing following COVID-19 pandemic

October 27, 2022

Students standing in quad
Photo credit: Northern Kentucky University.

The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education released new data showing that total preliminary undergraduate enrollment at the state’s public colleges and universities held steady from fall 2021 to fall 2022, an encouraging sign after the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in two years of declines.

“Our colleges and universities stepped up to the tremendous challenges brought by COVID-19 and focused on what they do best—serving and supporting current and prospective students,” said CPE President Aaron Thompson. “The positive trends we are starting to see in our enrollment numbers are a testament to that.”

CPE’s Preliminary Enrollment Brief Fall 2022 outlines three-year undergraduate enrollment trends, including preliminary fall 2022 data. The data reflect volatility caused by the COVID-19 pandemic at Kentucky’s public two-year and four-year postsecondary institutions, as well as some positive signs of recovery.

Enrollment of underrepresented minority students grew at both the four-year institutions and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System between fall 2021 and fall 2022. Underrepresented minority student enrollment increased 1.5% at four-year public institutions and 4.6% at KCTCS during the same period.

Thompson credits the state’s diversity, equity and inclusion policy and the performance funding model for driving progress. The funding model places a premium on degrees awarded to underrepresented, minorities and low-income students.

In other good news, dual credit was up at both two-year and four-year institutions year over year. It was up 4.1% at public universities and 18.9% at KCTCS, which offers around 70% of all dual credit opportunities the state.

The brief also showed first-time student enrollment was up 9.1% at public universities and 4.3% at KCTCS.

Additionally, after several years of decline, enrollment of adult students, ages 25-64, was up 1.3% at public universities but fell slightly, 0.7%, at KCTCS from fall 2021 to fall 2022.

Last Updated: 11/1/2022