Utah’s school- and college-age population projected to decrease

Population projections indicate an increase of over 284,000 residents in the school- and college-age groups in Utah between 2020 and 2060, according to the latest research published by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. However, this change is slower than other age groups, and both age groups decrease as shares of the total population.

“While growth continues to be our constant companion in Utah, the same can’t be said for certain age cohorts,” said Gardner Institute director of demographic research Mallory Bateman. “As the state population reaches 5.5 million in 2060, the share of school- and college-age residents are projected to change from 21% and 11%, respectively in 2021, to 15% and 10%, by 2060. We provide this detailed look to help inform planning for future capital facility planning, student services, and other educational needs.”

Key findings from the projections research include the following:

Between 2020 and 2060, growth in both populations

  • School-age – Projections indicate a change in Utah’s school-age, or 5-to- 17-year-old, population of nearly 106,000 between 2020 and 2060.
  • College-age – Between 2020 and 2060, Utah’s college-age, or 18-to-24-year-old population is projected to increase by almost 178,000 residents. This population is projected to increase significantly during the 2020s.
  • Utah County – Utah County, expected to double in total population by 2060, is projected to drive two-thirds of the growth of Utah’s school-age population in the same period. Over the next 40 years, this fast-growing county is expected to gain more than 73,000 school-age children, increasing by 46%.

Variation throughout the projection horizon

  • School-age – The school-age population is projected to decrease in each year from 2024 through 2035 before recovering and resuming growth in 2036. However, declines are projected to begin again in the 2056.
  • College­-age – The college-age population is projected to decrease in each year from 2032 through 2044 before recovering and resuming growth in the 2045.

Slower growth rates

  • School-age – Projections show the change in Utah’s school-age population will be slower than any other age group in the state. Utah’s total population is expected to increase by 66% from 2020 to 2060. Meanwhile, the school-age population is projected to grow by 15%.
  • College-age growth – Despite periods of growth in Utah’s college-age population, this age group is anticipated to grow at a slower pace than other adult age groups in Utah. The college-age population is projected to increase by 52%. In contrast, the population of adults 65 and older is expected to grow more than 200%.

The full research brief is now available online.