(Reuters) - Enrollment by Hispanics in U.S. colleges rose 15 percent from 2011 to 2012 even as the overall college population declined, the U.S. Census Bureau said in a report published on Tuesday.
Nearly 3.4 million Hispanics enrolled in college undergraduate or graduate programs in 2012, as the adult Hispanic population grew and because of greater demand from within the ethnic group, the bureau said.
Hispanic students have grown as a percentage of the overall college student population from 11 percent in 2006 to 17 percent in 2012.
Meanwhile, overall U.S. college enrollment fell 2.3 percent to 19.9 million from 2011 to 2012, reversing a trend toward increasing enrollment over the previous five years.
The overall student population had grown sharply from 2006 to 2011, and this year's decline was attributed almost entirely to lower numbers of older students, those 25 and older, the bureau said.
Foreign-born students and students whose parents were foreign-born made up 32 percent of all those enrolled in school at all levels in 2012, the survey said.
The bureau's annual survey of school enrollment examines data at levels from nursery to graduate school and by characteristics such as age, sex, race and other factors.
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Carol Bishopric)