The U.S. higher education system consists of a range of institution types that address diverse student populations and regional and national needs in S&E education. Across degree levels, S&E fields continue to grow. However, many groups of Americans are still underrepresented among S&E degree recipients. The United States remains a top destination for foreign students, especially in S&E fields. Recent data, however, indicate a decline in international student enrollment at U.S. academic institutions in fall 2020 accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond international student enrollment, the pandemic affected students and institutions across U.S. higher education in numerous ways, often exposing or exacerbating inequalities. Maintaining the preeminence of U.S. S&E higher education while serving Americans of all backgrounds represents a continuing aspiration that was placed in sharp focus by the challenges posed by the pandemic.