Unprecedented Enrollment Drop
While enrollment dropped 7% from 2010 to 2011, the average 2011 enrollment level (students per school) was not abnormal. After the late 1960's expansion (with an increase of 37% from 171 to 235 students in two years), the average 1L enrollment per ABA-approved school was 245 students. However, over that same period, enrollment dropped more than 2% just three times, making 2011's sharp drop unprecedented. But after 2011, large annual drops became the norm; with enrollment declining in sequential years, total enrollment fell quickly and schools now face severe revenue pressure. Since the 1L enrollment peak in 2010, total 1L enrollment has fallen 28% to the lowest point since the 1970's. The average 1L enrollment is the lowest it's been since the 1960's.
The blue plotbands reflect U.S. recessions as defined by the National Bureau of Economic Research.