Today's Students come from all walks of life, taking charge of their own educational journey.
The educational journeys of today’s students are as diverse
as their backgrounds and lived experiences.
Diverse in age, race, and income level
33% are older than 25, 42% are not white alone, and the increasingly first-generation and low-income student population experience challenges with basic needs insecurity.
Identify as a race other than white
Commuting from off-campus housing
Just 16% of undergraduates live on campus, with their peers commuting to campus, engaging in schooling online, or both.
live on campus
Balancing enrollment and employment
38% are enrolled part-time, and students who are enrolled part-time are typically working more hours per week than their full-time peers.
are enrolled part-time
Responsible for family affairs beyond the classroom
22% of undergraduates are parents, responsible for their own success — as well as the livelihood of their families.
How do Today’s Students differ from yesterday’s?
Undergraduate students attend a two-year college
heri.ucla.edu/PDFs/pubs/TFS/Special/Monographs/FirstInMyFamily.pdf (p. 16)
Students identify as a race other than white
Pell Grant recipients
KEY - year (number of student parents) percentage of the undergraduate population
Please note that the data listed here should not be directly compared to those listed above as the years are not aligned.
Although there was a rapid increase in enrollment between 2004 and 2012, the numbers have since declined.
Aya is a first-generation college student who navigated the federal student aid process, which presented several challenges due to her family’s circumstances.
University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Bri’s firsthand experience as a student enrolled in college during COVID-19 amplifies the unique needs of today’s students and how the pandemic affected student populations differently
University of LaVerne in California
Michaela is a parent and law school student whose advocacy work revealed a dearth of data on parenting students in her state.
Drayton is a parenting student who had to delay his educational goals to work due to financial uncertainties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
How do Today’s Students attend college?
0%of undergraduate students attend a two-year college
0%of undergraduate students attend a public college or university
0%of undergraduate students have taken at least one online course
0%of undergraduate students were exclusively enrolled in distance education during the peak of the pandemic
0%of students transfer to at least one different institution in their postsecondary career
Students lose, on average, one semester's worth of coursework when they transfer colleges.
Those at two-year colleges are the most likely to transfer at least once.
The most common transfer type is from a public two-year institution to a public four-year institution.
What Challenges Do Today’s Students Face?
Basic Needs Insecurity
0%At postsecondary institutions are veterans
0%Identify as a sexual orientation other than heterosexual
0%Identify as transgender or gender nonconforming
Especially in the wake of COVID-19, today's students share one common theme: overcoming barriers and hardships of their own on their way to higher learning.
- 35% have at least moderate anxiety
- 14% reported worsening mental health during and after the pandemic
- 454K undocumented students are enrolled in higher education
- 216K undocumented students are DACA*-eligible
51% of undergraduate students are financially independent
62% complete a degree or credential within six years of enrolling
Get the entire resource: Today’s Students 101
State profiles feature key data points, visual infographics, and brief explanations of all 50 states, and are a quick and easy resource for policymakers, analysts and media.