Recent Data Show Increase in College Completion Rates

March 21, 2022

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Title: Completing College: National and State Reports

Source: National Student Clearinghouse Research Center

The 10th report in the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center Completing College series offers insights about college completion rates for students who graduated high school and started college in 2015.

Through monitoring this cohort’s completion all the way to June 2021, these data track students who enrolled full-time or part-time at two-year and four-year colleges and universities. The data also include those who transferred to another institution. Added to this year’s report is a longitudinal data dashboard, which provides college completion outcomes and allows for national and state-level comparisons.

Among the findings:

  • The completion rate for students from the fall 2015 cohort was 62.2 percent, representing a 1.2 percentage point increase from fall 2014. Completion rates increased across all institutional types but were highest (1.5 percent increase) for students who started at community colleges.
  • The six-year completion rates for students increased in 32 of 46 states represented in the report. These increases were much different than the prior year’s reporting, in which increases only occurred for 12 of the 46 states. Completion rates for students who started at a public four-year institution increased by at least one percentage point in 25 out of the 46 states.
  • Similarly, completion rates for community college starters increased by at least one percentage point within 26 states.
  • College completion rates increased for Black, white, and Latinx students, while there were almost no changes for Asian students’ completion rates. Black students represented the biggest increase, up 1.9 percentage points from the 2014 cohort. The increase in completion rates for Black populations in the 2015 cohort was led by Black students who began their college careers at public institutions, while completion rates did not noticeably change for Black students starting at private, non-profit four-year institutions.
  • Adult learners represented the largest increases in completion rates, especially adult learners at public four-year institutions and community colleges. However, traditional-aged students remain in the majority of college attendees in the country and continued to have higher completion rates than their adult learner peers. 

To read the full report, click here. To explore the longitudinal data dashboard, click here.  

—Ty McNamee

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