Lane Kenworthy, The Good Society
NUMBER OF COLLEGE STUDENTS
About two-thirds of a typical cohort of Americans now gets some postsecondary education. The number of college students has been rising steadily for at least half a century, though the 2008-09 economic crisis has altered, or interrupted, this trend.
Far more attend public colleges than private ones. And public institutions have absorbed the largest share of the increase over time.
About twice as many Americans attend four-year colleges as two-year ones, and since the turn of the century the attendance rate has risen more rapidly at four-years.
NUMBER OF COLLEGES
The closing of a college tends to get a great deal of media attention, but the number of four-year colleges and universities in the United States has increased over the past generation, even if we set aside the rapid rise of for-profit colleges.
COLLEGE ADMISSION RATES
Many high school seniors about getting admitted to a good college. While much of the popular discussion focuses on the most selective colleges and universities, which have admission rates below 15% or even 10%, very few Americans attend such schools. More than half of college students attend a school with an admission rate above 60%. More than three-quarters attend a college with an admission rate above 40%.
WHERE DOES THE MONEY COME FROM?
In earlier eras, the bulk of funds for public universities were provided by state governments. This has changed significantly over the past half century. Most students in public four-year colleges attend one in which the state government provides between 20% and 40% of the college’s revenues.
A small but growing share of students attend a public college where the state provides less than 20%, or even less than 10%, of revenues. At my employer, the University of California-San Diego, the share is just 7%. The sources of UC San Diego’s revenue (as of 2015-16) are Medical Center 36%, grants and contracts 21%, tuition and fees 14%, educational activities (such as the School of Medicine) 12%, state government 7%, auxiliary enterprises (student housing, food service, parking, bookstore) 4%, private gifts 2%, and other miscellaneous revenues 4%.