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COVID-19: Understanding Changes to PS Student Enrollment Patterns


Dec 01, 2020


Mar 31, 2023
Funding Agency
University of Southern California and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

This project uses national data currently available, alongside interviews to be conducted with enrollment managers, to examine the effects of the pandemic on college enrollments and produce timely information useful for colleges, universities, and postsecondary policymakers.


Demographers, economists, education policymakers, as well as several major foundations in the United States, have called attention to the increasing number of potential college students that will come from populations that have been historically underrepresented in American higher education. The Western Interstate Commission of Higher Education (WICHE) has documented these changing demographic patterns, and the possible impact of these shifts on postsecondary education. Such demographic changes, as well as the effect of the pandemic, is likely to disrupt historic enrollment patterns and be particularly problematic for some institutions and students.

Research about such demographic and systemic changes often lag events taking place. State, Federal, and postsecondary education policymakers often have to wait a long time to get an accurate picture about the consequences of such shifts. For example, researchers often use the Integrated Postsecondary Student Data System (IPEDS) to study enrollment changes. However, IPEDS data often lag contemporary events by a substantial amount of time. Other data is, however, available that can inform decision-making in a more timely way. In addition, we have very limited knowledge about how institutional enrollment managers are planning for and dealing with such changes, especially those imposed on institutions due to the pandemic.

This project, led by Jerry Lucido (USC), Steve DesJardins (CSHPE), and Mike Bastedo (CSHPE), uses national data currently available to examine the effects of the pandemic on college enrollments. In addition, investigators will conduct interviews with enrollment managers to ascertain how their enrollment-related practices and policies have or are changing to guide their decision-making during these uncertain times. The results produced will provide timely information useful for colleges and universities as well as postsecondary policymakers.

Primary Investigator(s)

Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies; Professor, Marsal Family School of Education
Marvin W. Peterson Collegiate Professor Emeritus, Marsal Family School of Education; Evaluation Faculty Lead

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Sep 15, 2018
Award End Date
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Award End Date
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