In our district, only the freshmen started school today so technically it’s still summer vacation at our house. Not that it feels like it since one kid is volunteering at freshman orientation and the other will be at school later for soccer practice. Nonetheless, the National Center for Education Statistics has some back-to-school data to share. Some tidbits:

  • 56.6 million children are expected to attend elementary and secondary schools this year, a slight increase from last year. About 90% attend public schools.
  • 3.6 million students are expected to graduate from high school this year. That must represent some combination of graduation rates and this year being a relatively small cohort, since if students were equally distributed across grades and all completed high school, we would expect about 4.3 million to graduate this year.
  • 19.9 million students are expected to attend colleges and universities in the US this fall, with about 2/3 attending four-year institutions. Enrollment is down slightly from its 2010 peak of 21 million. Note that if approximately 4 million students graduate from high school each year and, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics just under 70% go to college, it’s clearly taking lots of students more than four years to complete their degree. (Of course, the 19.9 million includes part-time and re-entry students plus around 2 million graduate students, so it’s not a simple divide-by-four calculation.)
  • It is projected that 56.5% of college students this year will be female. In fact, women have comprised the majority of college students since 1973!
  • Projected per-student expenditures in K-12 this year are $12,910. Is that expensive? Compare the alternatives, all of which have strong inverse correlations to every level of educational attainment: A year in federal prison costs $31,977. The average Medicaid expenditure for a healthy adult is $3,278 annually. The maximum monthly SNAP benefit is $504.