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College Enrollment

Variable Definitions:
College Enrollment: The percentage of the population between the ages of 18 and 24 enrolled in public or private school (individuals enrolled in vocational and trade schools are not included in this percentage)

American Community Survey (ACS), 5-year estimates, Table B14004

Years Available:*

2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022

*Note: Each year of available data shown above is a 5-year estimate, or an average of data collected over a five year period. 5-year estimates are used to increase the reliability of the data at small geographies like neighborhoods and census tracts. The years shown on the NDSC map represent the final year of the five year average (e.g. “2010” represents 2006-2010 data, “2011” represents 2007-2011 data, and so on). For the most impactful comparison of data over time, the ACS recommends comparing non-overlapping years (e.g. 2010-14 with 2015-19).

Why are these variables important to measure?

College Enrollment
The activities of young people between the ages of 18 and 24 represent enormous potential for our nation’s economy, and getting an education during these years is a crucial step towards job opportunities and future economic prosperity. Since the Great Recession, the number of people in this age group who are unemployed and not in school has increased, posing both current and future problems for those individuals and their communities. 
Attending some college without graduating immediately improves an individual’s chances against unemployment and poverty, and leads to greater future earnings. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree further improves a young person’s economic and social prospects. High rates of employment and education in young adults also provides benefits to their communities. Young adults who attend school are less likely to become teenage parents and are much more likely to contribute to economic activity and growth of their neighborhoods in the future. However, average tuition prices have more than doubled over the past 30 years while household incomes have remained stagnant. It currently takes people nearly 20 years on average to pay off their student loans.
Written by Gabriela Magaña

Belfield, Clive R., Henry M. Levin, and Rachel Rosen. “The economic value of opportunity youth.” Civic Enterprises. Link

Dickler, J., & Nova, A. (2022, May 6). This is how student loan debt became a $1.7 trillion crisis. CNBChttps://www.cnbc.com/2022/05/06/this-is-how-student-loan-debt-became-a-1point7-trillion-crisis.html.

“Left behind in America: The nation’s dropout crisis.” Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University & The Alternative Schools Network, 5 May 2009. Link

Meyer, K. (2022, October 4). The causes and consequences of graduate school debt. The Brookings Institution. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brown-center-chalkboard/2022/10/04/the-causes-and-consequences-of-graduate-school-debt/

Rodin, Judith and Eme Essien Lore. “Youth opportunity: Rethinking the next generation.” Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization, vol. 8, no. 1/2, 2013, pp. 11-17. Link

“The rising cost of not going to college.” Pew Research Center: Social & Demographic Trends, 11 February 2014. Link

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