2009 Back-to-School Forecast -- Record Numbers of Students

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2009 Back-to-School Forecast -- Record Numbers of Students

September 3, 2009

More students are entering and returning to the nation’s schools and colleges than ever before, according to the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES).

In fact, as America's youth head back to classes, public elementary and secondary schools are preparing to serve a record 50 million students this fall with another 5.8 million attending private schools.

Colleges and universities anticipate an enrollment record of 18.4 million students, a projected increase of about 3.1 million since fall 2000. Among those are unprecedented numbers of African Americans and Hispanics. Driving the overall surge has been increases in both the traditional college-age population and rising enrollment rates.

“With more children enrolling in public schools and adults pursuing higher education and career training, we have a unique opportunity to invest wisely and make thoughtful reforms in education that will produce significant dividends for our nation for decades,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “We must give students the education they deserve to compete for jobs in a global marketplace, retrain displaced workers for jobs in new industries, and provide children with the foundation to imagine and invent the careers of the future. The new school year is an opportunity for all of us -- students, teachers, families, and communities -- to share the responsibility for successful schools and to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities in education.”

Following are highlights of the NCES back-to-school forecast posted at http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372:


  • This fall, nearly 50 million students will attend public elementary and secondary schools, up from 47 million a decade ago. Of this year's students, almost 35 million will be in prekindergarten through eighth grade and about 15 million in grades 9-12. An additional 5.8 million students are expected in private schools.

  • Public school systems will employ about 3.3 million teachers, resulting in a pupil-teacher ratio of 15.2 -- lower than last year's 15.3 and in 1999 when the ratio was 16.1. About a half-million teachers will be working in private schools where the pupil-teacher ratio is estimated at 12.8 versus 13.0 last year.

  • About 1.1 million children are expected to attend public prekindergarten this fall, up 40 percent since 2000, when 776,000 attended. Kindergarten enrollment, at approximately 3.8 million is also projected to be an all-time high, up 12 percent in the past decade, when 3.4 million attended.


  • This fall, a record 18.4 million students are expected to attend the nation’s two-year and four-year colleges and universities, an increase over the 18.2 million last year and 15.3 million in fall 2000.

  • More African American and Hispanic students are attending college than ever before, and their numbers represent a larger share of overall college enrollment. From 2000 and 2009, the number of African American college students increased 39 percent, to 2.4 million projected for 2009 from 1.7 million in 2000. The number of Hispanic college students increased 47 percent in those 10 years, to a projected 2.2 million in 2009 from 1.5 million in 2000.

  • Although the majority of students will attend full-time -- an estimated 62 percent for fall 2009 -- about 7 million are expected to attend part-time.

  • Females are expected to comprise 57 percent of college students in 2009, virtually unchanged from the 56 percent in 2000.

  • Of the 18.4 million college students, 39 percent are expected to attend public four-year institutions, with 35 percent at public two-year institutions. Private four-year institutions will draw 24 percent of students and at private two-year colleges, 2 percent.

  • During the 2009-10 school year, colleges and universities are expected to award nearly 3.2 million degrees -- of which 23 percent are associate’s; 51 percent bachelor's; 21 percent master's; 3 percent professional degrees (primarily law and medicine); and 2 percent doctorates.


EDITOR'S NOTE: More information can be found at www.nces.ed.gov.