Despite high profile stories about the closing of small liberal arts colleges, such as California’s Mills College and Vermont’s Green Mountain College, college closures have actually declined in the past five years. But the numbers may spike again as declining U.S. birth rates soon translate into fewer graduating high schoolers after 2025. First, the numbers. Thirty-five colleges and universities shut down in 2021, a 70 percent decrease from 2016, when a peak of 120 colleges shuttered, according to an analysis of federal data by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO). For-profit operators ran more than 80 percent of the 861 institutions that ceased operations between 2004 and 2021.