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State-By-State College Completion Rates Released by National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™

The National, Six-Year Completion Rate Rebounded To 54.8 Percent

HERNDON, VA, March 1, 2017 — The National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™ released today six‐year, student success outcomes and college completion rates by state, which covers more than 2.9 million students. The new report, Completing College: A State Level View of Student Attainment Rates, shows each state’s outcomes for students who started postsecondary education in fall 2010 at four‐year, public institutions; two‐year, public institutions; and four‐year private nonprofit institutions.

The report is a supplement to the fall 2016 report, Completing College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates – Fall 2010 Cohort. The national, six-year completion rate rebounded to 54.8 percent, an increase of 1.9 percentage points from the 2009 cohort.

“These results strongly suggest that what states do matters for student success in college and, ultimately, the quality of the states’ workforce,” said Doug Shapiro, Executive Research Director of the Clearinghouse. “For example, among adult learners who start at four-year public institutions, state completion rates range from 18 percent to 67 percent, showing immense opportunities for improvement.”

Some key findings include:

  • Nationally, 44.8 percent of adult learners who started in a four-year institution completed a degree within six years. In five states (Arizona, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Virginia), more than 60 percent of adult learners had a degree within the same period.
  • The gap in the six-year completion rate of traditional-age students and adult learners among students who started in four-year institutions, nationally, was about 21 percentage points (65.6 percent and 44.8 percent, respectively).
  • Nationally, 16.0 percent of two-year starters received a degree from a four-year institution within six years, with or without a prior associate’s degree. In 16 states, this percentage was higher than the national average. In four states (Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, Virginia), one in five students who started at a two-year, public institution had a four-year degree within six years.
  • Some completion patterns we observed in previous years’ reports stayed consistent: In 10 states, over one-third of all completions for two-year public starters happened elsewhere including California and Texas where more than 40 percent of all completions for students in this sector took place at an institution other than the one where they first enrolled. In 19 states, more than five percent of the starting cohort at four-year public institutions completed at an institution in a different state. This was true in 30 states for students who started at four-year private non-profit institutions.

More than 2.9 million first-time degree-seeking students who started their postsecondary studies in the fall of 2010 make up the cohort examined in this study, which includes all students enrolling part-time and full-time at all two-year and four-year institutions. Both Completing College and this supplement report focus on the fall 2010 cohort, following them through May 31, 2016, and highlighting six-year student outcomes including degree and certificate completion and continuing enrollment (persistence).

To see state details and key results, read the new report, Completing College: A State Level View of Student Attainment Rates or the fall report, Completing College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates – Fall 2010 Cohort.

This report was supported by a grant from the Lumina Foundation. The Lumina Foundation, an Indianapolis-based private foundation, is committed to enrolling and graduating more students from college — especially 21st century students: low-income students, students of color, first-generation students and adult learners. Lumina’s goal is to increase the percentage of Americans who hold high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025.

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 about the Clearinghouse Research Center, visit http://research.studentclearinghouse.org.


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