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Catholic Higher Education FAQs

 

How many Catholic colleges are in the United States? 
How many students are enrolled?
• What is the male: female ratio of students on Catholic college campuses?
How many students at Catholic higher education institutions are Catholic? 
How diverse is Catholic higher education?
What is the average tuition at a Catholic college/university? 
How much financial aid do students at Catholic institutions typically receive? 
Aside from tuition, how do other fees at Catholic colleges and universities compare? 
How does enrollment in a Catholic elementary or high school affect undergraduate enrollment in a Catholic university or college? 
What was the first Catholic college or university in the United States?
Do Catholic colleges and universities enjoy sizable endowment levels?
• How financially stable are Catholic colleges and universities?
How many students study abroad at Catholic colleges and universities? Do international students enroll in Catholic institutions?
Are there any two-year Catholic colleges?

 


How many Catholic colleges are in the United States?

As of July 2018, the National Center for Education Statistics IPEDS database shows a total of 249 Catholic institutions of higher education in the United States, including seminaries. There are several more Catholic colleges and universities not reported in IPEDS, with a total of about 260 institutions in the United States. Of the 249 reporting colleges and universities:

• 238 are degree-granting; the remaining 11 institutions offer postsecondary programs that do not result in an associate degree or higher.
• 9 institutions grant only associate degrees. All but two of these are health science programs associated with Catholic health care systems.
• 18 institutions grant only graduate degrees. Of these, 17 are seminaries or other theological schools; one is a specialized professional school.
 

How many students are enrolled?

Over 891,000 students were enrolled in Catholic higher education in 2016-17, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. On average, Catholic colleges and universities had a student body population of 3,550 students. Seventy-two percent of Catholic institutions had a student body population of more than 1,000 students, but only 21 institutions had more than 10,000 students, making most Catholic colleges and universities small to mid-sized.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, IPEDS Data Analysis System

What is the male: female ratio of students on Catholic college campuses?

Overall, 62 percent of students on Catholic campuses identified as female and 38 percent identified as male in 2016-17, as compared to 58 percent of students in all of higher education identifying as female and 42 percent of students identifying as male. This statistic is slightly skewed for Catholic higher education because of the number of all-female Catholic colleges and universities.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, IPEDS Data Analysis System


How many students at Catholic higher education institutions are Catholic? 

Data from the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) annual survey The American Freshman include 40 Catholic colleges and universities (or about 20 percent of the total U.S. Catholic colleges and universities) that submitted data, representing more than 66,000 students across the country. From 2014 to 2016, there is insignificant change in the percentage of freshmen who self-identify as Catholic at Catholic colleges and universities. Generally, a little over half of incoming freshmen at four-year Catholic colleges and universities self-identify as Catholic. This figure is about the same for the reported religious identity of these freshmen’s parents. (Note that for 2015, the parent categories were changed from “Father” and “Mother” to “Parent/Guardian 1” and “Parent/Guardian 2.”)

 

Catholic Religious Identification of the Freshman Class and Parents: 2014-2016  

 

 

2014

2015

2016

 

Student

Father

Mother

Student

Parent/ Guardian 1

Parent/ Guardian 2

Student

Parent/ Guardian 1

Parent/ Guardian 2

Four-year Catholic colleges

51.2%

52.1%

54.6%

52.0%

55.2%

55.3%

50.6%

53.6%

53.3%

Four-year other religious colleges

12.5%

15.1%

15.7%

13.0%

16.0%

16.1%

10.9%

13.5%

13.7%

Four-year non-sectarian colleges

23.3%

26.4%

28.0%

21.1%

25.5%

25.8%

19.8%

24.0%

24.2%

Four-year public colleges

26.9%

31.1%

32.6%

25.0%

30.4%

30.6%

25.8%

31.5%

32.0%

 

Source: The American Freshman: National Norms for Fall 2014, 2015, and 2016

 

How diverse is Catholic higher education?

Catholic institutions enjoy a racially and ethnically diverse student body population, enrolling students from the local community and across the world. See the chart below.

Racial-Ethnic-Diversity-chart


What is the average tuition at a Catholic college or university?

On average, tuition at a Catholic college or university was $28,732 in 2016-17, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

In measuring tuition costs against the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the average cost of Catholic college and university tuition from 2006 to 2017 has increased at a significantly slower rate than the CPI (50 percent, as compared to 63 percent).

How much financial aid do students at Catholic institutions typically receive?

For academic year 2016–17, on average, 38 percent of full-time, first-time undergraduates at Catholic colleges and universities received Pell Grants, the federal need-based grants program for low-income students. 

 

On average, 96 percent of students enrolled at Catholic institutions receive financial aid, with an average amount of $19,340 per student in 2016-2017. Almost 90 percent of students at Catholic institutions also received institutional aid.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, IPEDS Data Analysis System

 

Aside from tuition, how do other fees at Catholic colleges and universities compare?

Additional costs of college attendance are also lower at Catholic institutions. For instance, the cost of room (minus board) on all college campuses in the United States saw a 51 percent increase from 2006 to 2016, according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). At Catholic colleges and universities, the average cost of room (and board) rose by 39 percent over the same period. The CPI also reports an overall 88 percent increase in the cost of college textbooks in the same ten-year period. In comparison, Catholic colleges and universities reported an average 22 percent increase in the prices of books and supplies.


How does enrollment in a Catholic elementary or high school affect undergraduate enrollment in a Catholic university or college?

According to the authors of American Catholics Today: New Realities of their Faith and their Church, 42 percent of all Catholics who attended a Catholic college completed all or most of their education at Catholic schools (p. 160). The authors also state that 79 percent of current Catholic attendees at a Catholic college or university said they had attended a Catholic elementary school, and 65 percent had attended a Catholic high school. For more information about Catholic elementary and secondary schools, visit the website of the National Catholic Educational Association.


What was the first Catholic college or university in the United States?

Georgetown University, founded by Bishop John Carroll in 1789 and operated by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), was the first Catholic institution of higher education in the United States.


Do Catholic colleges and universities enjoy sizable endowment levels?

According to the federal IPEDS database, the average value of endowment assets for Catholic institutions at the beginning of the 2015-16 fiscal year was about $142 million — less than 70 percent of the average endowment for U.S. colleges and universities of over $207 million. Many Catholic colleges maintain significantly lower endowments.

 

 How financially stable are Catholic colleges and universities?

In 2015-16, 95 percent of Catholic colleges and universities were identified as financially responsible and healthy by the U.S. Department of Education.


How many students study abroad at Catholic colleges and universities? Do international students enroll in Catholic institutuions?

Catholic colleges and universities have a large number of students studying abroad and frequently host international students. According to the Institute of International Education, about half of Catholic colleges and universities had at least ten students studying abroad in 2015-16, with about 27,500 students combined. Over 100 Catholic institutions enroll ten or more international students a year, with about 38,400 international students combined.


Are there any two-year Catholic colleges?

Most Catholic colleges are four-year institutions that also offer two-year degree programs, but ACCU includes several traditional two-year institutions among its membership, such as Ancilla Domini College, Chatfield College, and Manor College. In addition, several Catholic health science institutions offer two-year degree programs, such as Laboure College. Other Catholic universities have specific colleges within their institution offering two-year degrees, such as Arrupe College at Loyola University Chicago and Dougherty Family College at the University of St. Thomas (MN).


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