The Education Department has issued guidance on how states should use federal student aid dollars to expand and maintain the number of college and university students in the country.
The new guidance says states should expand the number and types of students they’re enrolling from high school through the first two years of college.
That’s in contrast to a federal guidance in 2014 that stated states could use the funds to expand student enrollment by a maximum of five percent a year, but not beyond that.
In the 2014 guidance, the department said states could add more than 100,000 students to their student rolls by 2020.
However, it also noted that expanding enrollment by the maximum of 10 percent a decade from 2020 to 2023 would require more than 50,000 additional students.
The department’s guidance says the most recent data indicates that about 60 percent of all students enrolled in college, including more than half of first-time undergraduates, are entering the workforce at the age of 25.
That would be the second highest share in more than two decades, behind only the 2008-09 recession, according to a report released in December by the National Association of College and University Business Officers.
The report found that students who started college after 2008, with only 12.4 percent of students graduating at or before 25, were among the fastest-growing college graduates in the United States, up 9.6 percentage points over five years.
The rate of increase was even higher among those entering college with a bachelor’s degree.
Among those who graduated between 2009 and 2014, 28.7 percent of them were entering the labor force by the age 25, up 2.8 percentage points.
The share was the highest since the data began in 2000, the report found.
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