Enrollment drop • Older students show biggest decline; Hispanic student body increases.
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The nation's college enrollment declined by 2.2 percent last year as an improving economy helped bring to an end to years of student growth.
The number of Latino students, however, bucked that trend, growing by about 15 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to a Wednesday release from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Utah's numbers roughly track those of the rest of the country, though last year's enrolment drop of 1.56 percent wasn't as deep and its Hispanic student numbers didn't swell as much.
The state downturn in enrollment came after a growth period that set records in Utah, said Pam Silberman, spokeswoman for the Utah System of Higher Education.
"We had huge increases for the proceeding at least three years ... so these small decreases haven't offset those increases," she said.
While the number of Latino students grew by 7 percent in Utah last year, the number of Pacific Islander and American Indian students declined.
"I think that's a concern," said Silberman.
That trend played out around the country as the pool of college students shrank from 20.4 million to 19.9 million. Of that decrease, 419,000 were adults over 25.
The national numbers were released Wednesday in a school enrollment report that tracks children and adults from nursery to graduate school.
The state numbers come from USHE, which also iscollecting data on a Utah-specific enrollment issue: How lowering the age for missionaries in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to 18 for men and 19 for women will affect college enrollment numbers.