This graph shows the college enrollment for public and private schools in the United States from 1965 to 2014 with an additional forecast to 2025. In 2014, about 5.55 million students were enrolled in private colleges and 14.66 million in public colleges.
College enrollment in public and private institutions in the US
College enrollment in the United States has grown steadily from 1965 to 2011. In 2011, total enrollment was at an all time high of about 21 thousand students, about 15 thousand of whom enrolled at public institutions of higher education and about 5.9 thousand of whom enrolled at private institutions. Enrollment growth is projected to continue through 2021, with total college enrollment reaching 24 thousand students in both public and private institutions.
The landscape of US colleges and universities is diverse. In total, there were 4,600 institutions of higher education in the US in 2010. Institutions offering college education, or “postsecondary education,” vary greatly. Some institutions grant Associates degrees following two years of instruction. Undergraduate enrollment at 2-year postsecondary degree-granting institutions totaled about 8 thousand students in 2010. Other institutions offer Bachelors degrees upon the completion of a four-year course of study. Undergraduate enrollment at 4-year postsecondary degree-granting institutions reached about 10 thousand students in 2010. Universities, which offer graduate-level degrees, are often further distinguished from colleges, which offer only undergraduate (Bachelors) degrees. In 2010, the post-baccalaureate enrollment in the US reached just under 3 thousand students.
The statistic above refers to enrollment at degree-granting institutions of all types, distinguishing only between students enrolled at public and private institutions. Public institutions of higher education are funded and run by state-level government, while private institutions are not. Private institutions can be further distinguished as either for-profit or nonprofit, though that distinction is not made here. As of 2008/9, for-profit institutions accounted for only five percent of all Bachelor’s degrees granted.