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College Student Persistence Rate Inches Back Up: 69.6% Still Enrolled in Second Year

Nearly 70 Percent Return to Any School and Nearly 60 Percent Return to the Same School, Shows Second Annual Report by National Student Clearinghouse™ Research Center®

HERNDON, VA, APR. 23, 2015 — According to the second annual Snapshot Report on persistence and retention, from the National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center, the percentage of first‐time students who were still enrolled at any college in their second fall term increased one percentage point over the prior year, bringing the persistence rate to its highest level since 2010, when it began a four-year decline. Even though the 2013 entering class was slightly smaller than the previous one, 17,000 more students persisted into the second year.

The percentage of students who returned to the same institution for their second fall term increased 1.1 percentage points.

The report tracks fall-to-fall persistence and retention rates from the entering class of fall 2009 through the entering class of fall 2013. The persistence rate is the percentage of students who return to college at any institution for their second fall term, while the retention rate is the percentage of students who return to the same institution for their second fall term.

Findings include:

  • Of all first‐time students who entered college in fall 2013, 69.6 percent returned to college at any U.S. institution in fall 2014, and 59.3 percent of first-time students returned to the same institution.
  • For each entering cohort year, the overall persistence rate is about 11 percentage points higher than the retention rate. This means about one in nine students who start college during any fall term transfer to a different institution by the following fall.
  • Increases in persistence rates were larger for students who started college on a full-time basis (1.2 percentage points) than for students who started college on a part-time basis (0.2 percentage points).
  • Each institutional sector saw very similar increases in persistence rates, but two-year publics saw the largest increase (0.8 percentage points).
  • Persistence rates increased for all age groups.

“These improvements, however small, are good news for the education system. We recovered some of the ground that was lost over the last few years and see more students persisting,” stated Dr. Doug Shapiro, Executive Research Director of the Research Center. “It suggests that students are entering college a little bit better prepared, and that colleges are doing a better job of keeping them on a path to graduation.”

About the National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center is the research arm of the National Student Clearinghouse. The Research Center collaborates with higher education institutions, states, school districts, high schools, and educational organizations as part of a national effort to better inform education leaders and policymakers. Through accurate longitudinal data outcomes reporting, the Research Center enables better educational policy decisions leading to improved student outcomes.

To learn more, visit http://research.studentclearinghouse.org.

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