The good news is that this might be because people are getting jobs instead of going to school.

Douglas Belkin of the Wall Street Journal reports.

U.S. College Enrollment Has Dropped Nearly 2% Over Past Year

The number of students at U.S. colleges and universities fell nearly 2% between May 2014 and this month, continuing a four-year slide, according to a report to be released Thursday by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

As of this month, 18.6 million students were enrolled, down about 1 million students from the peak in 2011. Enrollment spiked during the recession when more adults went back to school to retrain. As the labor market has improved, many have returned to work.

“The recovering job market is the most likely cause of the enrollment decline,” said Jason DeWitt, research manager at the Clearinghouse. “Since October of 2009, the unemployment rate has dropped four percentage points.”

The drop was steepest at four-year for-profit colleges and two-year public colleges, which saw decreases of 4.9% and 3.9%, respectively. Both sectors skew toward older students.

The for-profit sector has also been hit hard in recent years by a string of federal actions targeting high student-loan default rates and low graduation rates. This year, Corinthian Colleges filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the latest step toward a full shutdown in the wake of a financial crisis that began last summer. The University of Phoenix and ITT Education Services have also watched their fortunes sink. About 80% of the students at for-profit colleges are older than 24, Mr. DeWitt said.