The solution to declining college enrollment? Immigrants.
Over the past decade, higher education has faced steep declines in enrollment at all but the most competitive of colleges. Driven by myriad forces — a drop in the college-age population, rising costs, the COVID-19 pandemic, and a comparatively attractive labor market — students are enrolling at rates that worry college administrators across the nation. Immigrant-origin students, however, provide a demographic beacon of hope that has largely gone unrecognized. It’s time to take stock of their demographic significance and the human capital they bring.
Immigrant-origin youth — those with at least one parent born outside of the United States — are the fastest-growing group of students in higher education today. New data estimates revealed at the recent Higher Education Pathways to Immigration: Why it Matters Summit indicate they make up a stunning 31 percent of all college students across the United States — a 58 percent increase from 2000 to 2018. The majority (84 percent) of these students are citizens either by birth (68 percent) or through naturalization (16 percent).
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