Idaho college enrollment defied ‘go-on’ trend

While Idaho’s college go-on rates continue to lag, Idaho’s college enrollment numbers are trending upward.

From spring 2015 to spring 2016, Idaho college enrollment increased by 3.2 percent, according to a National Student Clearinghouse report.

The Idaho numbers defy the national trends; overall, enrollment dropped by 1.3 percent in this same time period. Idaho’s 3.2 percent increase also ranked fourth in the nation, trailing only New Hampshire, Utah and Arizona.

All told, 93,768 students enrolled in Idaho colleges and universities this spring, up from 90,885 in 2015. However, the new numbers still lag behind the spring of 2014, when enrollment reached 94,753.

College enrollment numbers will not correlate perfectly with the go-on numbers. After all, the enrollment numbers reflect out-of-state students who enroll in Idaho colleges and universities — and conversely, they do no account for Idaho graduates who continue their education out of state.

But the college enrollment increase occurred just as the state’s go-on rate dropped significantly.

Only 46 percent of the state’s class of 2015 had enrolled in postsecondary programs within a year of graduating high school. The 2014 go-on rate was 52 percent.

To some degree, of course, increased college enrollment is a bellwether of an improved go-on rate. And State Board of Education spokesman Blake Youde has pointed to 2016 enrollment trends — record enrollment at Boise State University and the University of Idaho’s first enrollment increase since 2012 — as signs that suggest the state’s go-on rates will rebound.

The National Student Clearinghouse is scheduled to release its next round of enrollment numbers in December.