COLORADO SPRINGS — As COVID-19 disruptions continue, new data shows some colleges have seen a decline in undergraduate, specifically low-income students, but a jump in graduate enrollment.
The University of Colorado Colorado Springs tells News5 that the enrollment has remained steady this year. Going into fall, they were anticipating a 15% drop but were surprised to see enrollment drop only 4%.
While they don't understand the exact reasons behind the drop, students say some aren't returning due to fears over contracting COVID-19, remote learning, and not being to afford school.
"Trying to find jobs is hard for a lot of people I know," said Giovanni Nardini.
"I haven't been able to get a job, but I'm doing okay," said Samantha Beezley.
For these college students, it hasn't been the ideal return back to school. With so much uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, they've been seeing more and more of their peers chose to discontinue their education or switch schools.
"I did know a girl who she is from out of state and she decided to not come back and go to school online," said Beezley.
Nardini says he wouldn't have returned to school if it weren't for his parents helping him financially.
"I feel like if they weren't helping me than it would be really hard. I wouldn't be able to take as many classes as I would or do the fun things I get to do," said Nardini.
Preliminary data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center show undergraduate enrollments are down 2.5 percent compared to last fall, but graduate students are up 3.9 percent. UCCS says they've also seen a drop in undergraduate students but an increase in graduates.
"We've seen a little bit of increase with the low-income students because they qualify for more need-based financial aid," said Jared Verner, Director of Communications for University of Colorado Colorado Springs.
According to the university, they're seeing a decline in enrollment with middle and high-income students.
"The higher end of the incomes, that's where we saw our biggest changes from last year to this year. There's a lot of potential reasons for why that is," said Verner.
Students that did return this year say they're just glad to be back on campus and getting the opportunity to learn in-person.