College Enrollment Stats and What New FAFSA Applications Could Mean for Your School

College Enrollment Stats and What New FAFSA Applications Could Mean for Your School

Are better days finally ahead for four-year college enrollments? New data seems to indicate, well… Maybe.

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, undergraduate college enrollment for spring 2024 grew by 359,000 students, or 2.5% over the previous spring.  This marks the first time enrollments have grown in consecutive semesters since the pandemic.[1]

But, while the data does show that more high school students are becoming interested in higher education (and enrolling) than in the last few years, there are two big caveats four-year colleges should be aware of.

First, the majority of new undergrad enrollments are coming from community colleges and two year programs…

And second, the latest Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application numbers are worrisome. Very worrisome.

You see, FAFSA applications have dropped, and they’ve dropped significantly.

In fact, this year’s FAFSA application data is so alarming, that CBS News published an entire story titled, “Experts say drop in FAFSA applications could indicate low fall college enrollment.”[2]

Today, Conversion Media Group, a national leader in higher education enrollment initiatives will digest some of the CBS News report for you, and show you a way to help boost enrollments at your school, regardless of the FAFSA data.

So, how significant was the FAFSA drop this year?

Well, the National College Attainment Network (NCAN) says applications from the class of 2024 were very weak. Just under 36% of this year’s graduating class completed a FAFSA by the end of April.

April, as you know, is a month when prospective college students are not only in the process of narrowing down their college choices or fully committing to one, but they’re actively looking for student aid.

This means that over 60% of the class of 2024 (as of the end of April) is not seeking federal financial aid, indicating, as the CBS News headline says…  fall semester enrollment numbers could be in trouble.

FAFSA completion is a really strong indicator that tells us whether students are likely to enroll or not. The outlook is bleak for fall enrollment.” said NCAN’s MorraLee Keller.

Now, the drop in FAFSA applications has been blamed on a number of things, including a botched rollout and tech glitches…

But one blameless reason for the drop may be, as Keller says, “Students looking at skilled trades is making a comeback as a viable post-high school option.”

And this could tie into the community college and two year program enrollment increases we’ve seen with the latest National Student Clearinghouse Research Center data.

So, what does this all mean for your institution?

Well, if you’re a four-year institution catering to high school grads that you’d like to educate on-campus, then the fall semester may turn out to be a rough one.

However, if you offer two-year degrees, four-year online degrees, trade, and vocational programs, this fall could end up being a very good one for you. Especially if you partner with Conversion Media Group.

But why partner with CMG?

Because we are experts at higher education enrollment initiatives. We know what prospective students are looking for…

And we know how to have them look at you! Give us a call at 1-800-419-3201 or contact us HERE and we’ll detail exactly what we can do for you.

[1] Current Term Enrollment Estimates | National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (

[2] Experts say drop in FAFSA applications could indicate low fall college enrollment – CBS Texas (