DALLAS (NEXSTAR) – Freshman enrollment at American colleges and universities has dropped more than 16 percent since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The group says community colleges have experienced an enrollment decline of roughly 25%.

Doug Shapiro, the center’s executive director, labeled this development “staggering.” “Most strikingly, freshman students are by far the biggest decline of any group from last year,” Shapiro told the New York Times.

Statistics show the rate of enrollment decline is higher in men than women. Shapiro says it’s likely students put off their education or decided to work a year before enrolling.

The NSCRC reports undergraduate enrollment dropped at every type of institution except four-year, for-profit colleges. Overall, enrollment at all colleges for all grade levels is down about 4% year-to-year.

According to the Times, nearly 180,000 coronavirus cases have been reported at 1,400 college campuses since the beginning of the pandemic.