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.

  1. 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.

    42%

    Identify as a race other than white

  2. Commuting from off-campus housing

    Just 16% of undergraduates live on campus, with their peers commuting to campus, engaging in schooling online, or both.

    16%

    live on campus

  3. 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.

    38%

    are enrolled part-time

  4. 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.

    22%

    are parents

How do Today’s Students differ from yesterday’s?

Two-Year Enrollment

First-Generation

Undergraduate students attend a two-year college

1980

0%

Today

0%

Reference

nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d20/tables/dt20_303.70.asp

First-generation students

1980

0%

Today

0%

Reference

heri.ucla.edu/PDFs/pubs/TFS/Special/Monographs/FirstInMyFamily.pdf (p. 16)

Race

Pell Grants

Students identify as a race other than white

1980

0%

Today

0%

Parenting Students

KEY - year (number of student parents) percentage of the undergraduate population

2004 (3.7M)

2012 (4.8M)

2016 (3.8M)

0%

0%

0%

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.

Voices of Today's Students logo
Student Voices video of Aya Waller-Bey
Aya Waller-Bey

Georgetown University

Aya is a first-generation college student who navigated the federal student aid process, which presented several challenges due to her family’s circumstances.

Student Voices video of Bri Sislo-Schutta
Bri Sislo-Schutta

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

Student Voices video of Michaela Martin
Michaela Martin

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.

Student Voices video of Drayton Jackson
Drayton Jackson

Olympic College

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?

Institution Types

FPO - Stat Icon

0%

of undergraduate students attend a two-year college
FPO - Stat Icon

0%

of undergraduate students attend a public college or university

Learning Modality

FPO - Stat Icon

0%

of undergraduate students have taken at least one online course
FPO - Stat Icon

0%

of undergraduate students were exclusively enrolled in distance education during the peak of the pandemic
Transfer Status

0%

of students transfer to at least one different institution in their postsecondary career

Transfer Students

  • 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

%
Experience housing insecurity
%
Were homeless in the past year
%
Experience food insecurity
%
Receive SNAP benefits
%
Receive emergency aid
$
Average emergency aid per student
%
Did not apply for support because they did not know how

Additional Identities

First-Generation

0%

Are first-generation students

Student-Veterans

0%

At postsecondary institutions are veterans

Sexual Orientation

0%

Identify as a sexual orientation other than heterosexual

Gender Identity

0%

Identify as transgender or gender nonconforming

Additional Statistics

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.

Mental Health
  • 35% have at least moderate anxiety
  • 14% reported worsening mental health during and after the pandemic

Immigration
  • 454K undocumented students are enrolled in higher education
  • 216K undocumented students are DACA*-eligible

Financial Status

51% of undergraduate students are financially independent

Completion

62% complete a degree or credential within six years of enrolling

Get the entire resource: Today’s Students 101

State Profiles

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.

Find Your State