Online Enrollment at Public Nonprofit Colleges and Universities Outpaces For-Profits

According to a report published last year by the Babson Survey Research Group, enrollment in online degree programs is growing rapidly. However – there are differences by type of institution. From 2015 to 2016, online enrollment at public nonprofit colleges and universities grew 7.3 percent, private nonprofit colleges and universities grew 7.1 percent, and for-profit colleges and universities actually saw a decrease of 4.5 percent.

Other findings include the fact that distance/online education enrollment grew for the 14th straight year. Obviously, this modality is here to stay. One has to wonder how long the traditional, on-campus experience will continue to be favored by recent high school graduates and their parents. There is much to be said for living at home, working part-time or full-time, and earning your undergraduate degree online. In addition, some employers will pay tuition.

Other interesting facts include that two-thirds of online degree students enroll in public institutions – that is – a state school, i,e, an institution such as University of Illinois or Illinois State University. Plus 84 percent of online students enroll at a college or university in their state of residence or near where they live. There could be a few different factors affecting this decision. While many institutions offer a nearly in-state rate to all online students, many times there are significant online learning or “technology fees” added to the online tuition price. So if a student can get in-state tuition without extra fees, that would be a significant influence. But let’s not forget about brand perception as real influence. While SNHU or Colorado State Global might sound like good options, A student who resides in Arizona is likely to consider Northern Arizona University (NAU Online), Arizona State University (ASU Online), or University of Arizona Online. Familiarity and trust is a very real influencer.

Feel free to re-use the infographic. For more information and access to this report, please visit





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