New data released by the Iowa Department of Education shows overall growth in fall enrollment trends at Iowa’s 15 community colleges this year.

Preliminary data analysis for 2023 indicates total fall enrollment at Iowa community colleges increased by 3,111 students from last year. This represents a 3.8 percent climb in the total number of students enrolled this fall at 85,362 compared to 82,251 in 2022 and is the second consecutive year with a continuous increase in community college enrollment. Part-time enrollment also reached an all-time high this fall with part-time students representing 66.7 percent of total enrollment.

“Iowa is continuing to see a strong rise in student enrollment at community colleges across the state,” said Amy Gieseke, section chief in the Bureau of Community Colleges and Postsecondary Readiness at the Iowa Department of Education. “Although we have not fully returned to pre-pandemic enrollment levels, the increases in fall enrollment prove community colleges are continuing to reach students to provide them with the high-quality education, training and industry certifications to ensure successful preparation for their careers and future success.”

Credit hours for Iowa community college students also increased by 3.0 percent this year at 709,013 compared to 688,414 last year. On average, students enrolled in 8.3 credit hours this fall semester.

Growth within total enrollment and student credit hours can be attributed to postsecondary initiatives offered within Iowa. Notably, joint enrollment opportunities for high school students to simultaneously earn high school and college credits continue to impact enrollment at community colleges and noted increases in 2023. This fall, 40,037 high school students participated in joint enrollment, which represents a 7.9 increase from 2022, and enrolled in 213,930 credit hours, a 14.2 increase.

For career and technical education (CTE) programs, enrollment also grew by 3.1 percent this fall, due in part to continued expansion of career academies through the development of new regional centers across the state. These career-oriented programs in high-demand fields link secondary CTE programs to postsecondary education opportunities, and new regional centers supported by the Career Academy Incentive Fund can provide opportunities to new rural locations and school districts.

Other notable fall enrollment data includes: 

  • Enrollment increased at nine colleges and decreased at six.
  • Over 56 percent of enrolled students were female. 
  • Students of color represented 21.8 percent of students, which is a decrease of 2.7 percent from the previous year. 
  • Nearly 5,350 students enrolled in one of the 27 transfer major disciplines.
  • More than 41,900 students enrolled in at least one online course, a 12.1 percent decrease.

The 2023 Fall Enrollment report and data tables are available on the Department’s website.