Between 2000 and 2017, overall college enrollment rates increased for both young adult males (from 33 to 37 percent) and young adult females (from 38 to 44 percent). Among males, college enrollment rates were higher in 2017 than in 2000 for Black (33 vs. 25 percent) and Hispanic (31 vs. 18 percent) young adults. Among females, college enrollment rates were also higher in 2017 than in 2000 for White (44 vs. 41 percent) and Hispanic (41 vs. 25 percent) young adults. The rates in 2017 were not measurably different from the rates in 2000 for White young adult males and Black young adult females.
Students may receive loans from either the federal government or a private lending institution, such as a bank or credit agency. Federal loans are considered the best option for most students because they carry fixed interest rates and do not require repayment until the recipient graduates or leaves school. Federal loan options include Direct Subsidized Loans for undergraduates with financial need, Direct Unsubsidized Loans for undergraduate and graduate students with no financial need, and Direct PLUS Loans for graduate students or parents of undergraduates. To qualify for federal loans, candidates must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Assistance, or FAFSA. Comparatively, private loans can be riskier for students because they carry variable interest rates and may require repayment before the recipient is finished with school.
The overall college enrollment rate increased from 2000 to 2010. Similarly, the college enrollment rate increased at 4-year institutions and 2-year institutions during this period. Over a more recent time period, the overall college enrollment rate in 2017 was not measurably different from the rate in 2010, but the rate at 4-year institutions increased from 2010 (28 percent) to 2017 (30 percent), and the rate at 2-year institutions decreased from 13 percent to 10 percent during this period.