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Education Costs To Reach $230 Billion This Year

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Washington--Americans will spend $230 billion for education during the 1983-84 school year--up from $215 billion this past year--while total enrollment in the nation's schools and colleges will decrease only slightly, according to the Education Department's annual "back-to-school" forecast.

"Education in the fall of 1983 will be the primary activity of more than 60.2 million Americans," Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell noted while announcing the department's predictions last week. "In a nation with a population of 234 million, more than one of four persons will be a direct participant in the educational process."

That figure climbs to 3 of 10 when the support staffs of schools and colleges are included, he added.

Total enrollment in the nation's schools and colleges is expected to drop by 400,000 from last fall's 57.1 million students to 56.7 million this fall, according to the report.

Similarly, enrollment in elementary schools is expected to drop from 30.9 million to 30.8 million. Small annual decreases in elementary enrollment have been occurring since 1969, reflecting a continuing decline in the number of children 5 to 13 years old, the report said. Because of the recent upswing in the birthrate, that trend is expected to be reversed in the mid-1980's, and modest annual increases are projected for the remainder of the decade.

Increased Enrollment

At the high-school level, enrollment is expected to decrease from 13.8 million in 1982 to 13.5 million this fall. Unlike that of elementary schools, the report noted, high-school enrollment is expected to decline throughout the 1980's as the size of the 14- to 17-year-old population continues to decrease.

Enrollment in colleges and universities is expected to remain near its all-time high of 12.4 million this fall, according to the report. Al-though the traditional college-age population peaked in 1981, college enrollment is expected to remain relatively high for the rest of the decade because of the increased attendance of older, part-time, and minority students.

Approximately 2.4 million adults will teach in elementary and secondary schools this fall, a small reduction from the number employed as teachers last year, the report said. An additional 300,000 will work as superintendents, principals, and other administrators.

The number of college professors and instructors is expected to hold steady at 870,000.

The federal government plans to provide 9 percent of the $230 billion to be spent on education, according to the report. States will pick up 39 percent of the share, and local governments an additional 24 percent. Other sources, such as tuition, endowment earnings, and private grants and donations, will account for the remaining 28 percent.

Elementary schools are expected to receive $141 billion this year, and colleges and universities are expected to receive $89 billion. Public schools and colleges will spend almost $184 billion, compared to the $46 billion that is expected to be spent on private education.

High schools, the report stated, will graduate about 2.7 million young people by the end of this school year, down from last year's total of 2.8 million and the all-time high of 3.1 million, set in 1977.

Estimates for the number of earned degrees to be conferred during the school year are: bachelor's degrees, 980,000; master's degrees, 300,000; doctor's degrees, 33,000; and first-professional degrees, 75,000.

A record number of people are expected to receive bachelor's and first-professional degrees this year, the report said. The figures for master's and doctor's degrees are projected to be down slightly from the peak years of 1977 and 1973, respectively.

College Graduates

A related study released by the Labor Department last week indicated that there are more college graduates in the nation's labor force than ever before.

A survey conducted by the department's bureau of labor statistics in March found that 24 percent of the work force between the ages 25 to 64 had completed four or more years of college. That compares to 16 percent of the work force a decade earlier.

At the other end of the spectrum, the number of adult workers with fewer than four years of high school declined by almost 500,000 from 1982 to 1983, the report noted.

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