2/3 College Undergraduates are Legal Age to Drink

Two of every three college undergraduate students (65.9%) in the US are age 21 or older, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, a federal agency.

This means that two-thirds of American college and university undergraduates are of legal age to drink. And of all US college students (graduate and undergraduate), 70.5% are of legal drinking age. Thus, “college student drinker” doesn’t equate to “underage drinker,” as usually implied.

Henry Wechsler, author of periodic surveys of college student drinking, falsely asserts in an alarmist report that “about one half of (U.S. college) students are under age 21.”

Why do some alcohol activists dramatically under-report the proportion of college students who can legally drink? Could it be to make underage college drinking appear more widespread that it really is? Could it be to make college student appear wildly irresponsible and out of control? Could it be to justify their continual calls to restrict the freedom of college students? Perhaps it’s because of all of the above. But whatever the reason or reasons, it’s illegitimate and self-serving behavior.


  • Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) national web site.
  • Wechsler, Henry, et al. Environmental correlates of under age alcohol use and related problems of college students. Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2000, 19(1), 24-29.