Almost 200 colleges, including several outside the U.S., have so far told the National Association for College Admission Counseling that they have open slots for fall 2021.
The admissions trade group released its annual College Openings Update on Thursday, more than a week ahead of schedule, citing "high demand." It includes schools with available seats, housing and aid.
More than 700 institutions reported open spots as of May 1 last year, signaling enrollment uncertainty brought by the pandemic.
NACAC expects more colleges to join the list by early May. The first of that month has traditionally been the deadline for students to commit to schools that don't offer rolling admissions. But that date has become increasingly less relevant, especially after NACAC in fall 2019 changed its ethics code to give institutions more freedom to woo and enroll students after they picked a school.
NACAC did this in response to the U.S. Department of Justice investigating its admissions practices. The organization settled a related lawsuit with the Justice Department in early 2020.
For the first time in its history, the database indicates whether colleges extended their commitment deadline past May 1.
"Because of the extraordinary disruptions of the past year, many terrific institutions are still seeking students for fall enrollment," Melissa Clinedinst, NACAC's director of research and grants, said in a statement. "Seeing this resource may help ease the college application stress that many students are experiencing."
Clinedinst said in an email that NACAC expects the number of schools on the list will "increase substantially" after May 1. She said the group released the list early in response to demand from institutions that were interested in being on it, as well as from counselors who are helping students find a college.
Some colleges listed in the database have rolling admissions, while availability at others is expected to shift after May 1. The group said institutions will report such changes. The list will remain on NACAC's website until the end of July.
More than 770 institutions were listed in the database last year, NACAC said in a release Thursday. In 2019, a little more than 400 had open spots. Policy experts largely attributed the increase in 2020 to questions around how the health crisis would affect enrollment.
Undergraduate enrollment was down nearly 4% in the fall from the year before, with the brunt of the losses among community college students.
This story has been updated with an additional comment from NACAC.