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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?
 

The National Center for Education Statistics identified 249 Catholic institutions participating in federal student financial aid programs in 2017-18. There are several other Catholic colleges that do not participate in these programs, with a total of about 260 Catholic institutions of higher education in the United States.

 

Of the 249 reporting colleges and universities:


• 238 are degree-granting and 11 offer postsecondary programs that do not result in an associate degree or higher.
• 9 institutions grant only associate degrees.
• 18 institutions grant only graduate degrees.

 

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? 

The Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) surveys college freshman each year. The 2017 report included data from 42 Catholic colleges and universities, representing about 20 percent of all participating institutions. About a quarter of all college freshmen at four-year institutions identify as Catholic; 43 percent of freshmen at Catholic institutions identified as Roman Catholic.

 Catholic Religious Identification of the Freshman Class and Parents: 2015-2017

   2015  2016 2017
   Student  Parent/
 Guardian 1
 Parent/
 Guardian 2
 Student  Parent/
 Guardian 1
 Parent/
 Guardian 2
 Student  Parent/
 Guardian 1
 Parent/
 Guardian 2
 Four-year Catholic Colleges  52.0%  55.2%  55.3%  50.6%  53.7%  53.3%  43.4%  46.3%  45.9%
 All Institutions  24.3%  29.3%  29.6%  23.4%  28.7%  28.9%  23.5%  28.4%  28.4%

 

Source: The American Freshman: National Norms for Fall 2015, 2016, and 2017

 

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, as shown here:

Student Racial-Ethnic Diversity 2017

 


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

On average, tuition at a Catholic college or university was $29,532 in 2017-18, 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 any kind of 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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