Tuition increases combined with a shrinking pool of high school graduates has contributed to a slight dip in college enrollments, the American Council on Education says.

The declines were less than 1 percentage point in most states, the council said in a report Monday, while increases also were minimal in states reporting enrollment growth.An improved economy also was a factor, providing job opportunities for some young people who might otherwise have enrolled in college.

Eleven of 17 states responding to a survey said they posted modest enrollment declines at the start of the 1994-1995 school year, the council said.

The council said the year-to-year rate of decline appears to be slowing. Last year, 12 of 16 states reported decreases - the most in the seven-year history of the survey.

State and national education officials attribute the fall to a dearth of applicants and the lingering effects of the state budget crises of the early 1990s, the group said.

"The decreases ranged from a low of 0.4 percent in Virginia to a high of 7.2 percent in Minnesota," the council said. "Last year, declines ranged from 0.4 percent in Louisiana to 9 percent in California," which has the nation's largest community college system.

This year, California experienced a 1.4 percent drop in two-year college enrollment, the council said. Only four states - Arizona, Washington, Texas and Mississippi - reported increases of between 0.2 percent and 1.9 percent.

A growing Hispanic population contributed to an across-the-board enrollment increase in Texas, the group said. Enrollment there rose 1.2 percent at community colleges and 0.3 percent at four-year institutions.

Twelve states reported continued increases in the number of minority students attending college. Six reported no change and one posted a decrease.

Enrollments are expected to increase over the next several years as the number of high school graduates rises, the council said. The federal government's Education Department expects the numbers to grow by 5 percent this school year, from 2.5 million in 1993-1994 to more than 2.6 million.