Georgia college enrollment drops for second straight year

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Enrollment in Georgia’s public universities fell for the second year in a row.

The University System of Georgia on Tuesday released data showing enrollment among its 26 public colleges and universities fell by 1.8%, or 6,179 students. This fall, the system enrolled a total of 334,459 students.

Last fall brought the first system enrollment decline since 2013, when it dropped slightly by 0.2%.

Officials pointed to several reasons for the recent declines: The impact of the pandemic, which has contributed to lower college enrollment nationally, financial uncertainty and a job market that has pushed some students to go to work instead of school.

ExploreSmaller Georgia colleges grapple with declining enrollment

Chancellor Sonny Perdue said the system needs “to do a better job” of marketing the value of a college degree.

“We aim to be a lifelong learning partner that helps Georgians change their lives and grow Georgia’s skilled workforce and economy,” he said, in a written statement.

In his remarks during a Tuesday meeting of the Georgia Board of Regents, Perdue said system officials will dissect the data and look at ways to increase numbers in specific areas, including looking at policies that impact dual-enrolled high school students and recruiting more adult learners.

Nationally, undergraduate college enrollment continued to drop this fall, but the decline slowed to pre-pandemic rates, according to a report released last month by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Across the country, enrollment fell by about 1.1% over last fall, the research center found.

ExploreEnrollment dips at most of Georgia’s public colleges

This year, eight Georgia schools saw enrollment bumps, 17 declined and Dalton State College remained flat.

Georgia Tech saw the largest boost, with a 3.3% increase to bring its enrollment to 45,296 students.

Other schools who saw numbers go up include Augusta University, Gordon State College, the University of Georgia, South Georgia State College, Georgia Gwinnett College, Kennesaw State University and Albany State University.

UGA’s enrollment grew by 1.2% to 40,607 students.

Clayton State University saw the biggest enrollment loss compared to last year with a 14.1% drop. Other schools with a double-digit percentage point decrease include Valdosta State University, Savannah State University and Atlanta Metropolitan State College.

Georgia State University, which has 51,995 students, has the highest enrollment in the system.