College Completion Rates Decline

A new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center shows declines in graduation rates across every institution type and all student groups.

According to a NSCRC press release, out of 2.9 million students enrolled, the overall national six-year completion rate for fall 2009 incoming students was 52.9 percent, a decline of 2.1 percent from the fall 2008 cohort. It is also twice the decline observed in last year's report.

"Without the considerable efforts to improve student outcomes at the institutional, state, and federal levels, these declines could have been even worse given the demographic and economic forces at play," said Dr. Doug Shapiro, Executive Research Director, National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, in a press release. "This year's completions report helps practitioners and policymakers to identify where opportunities for improvement may be the greatest."

The reports look at students in three age groups: those who began higher education directly after high school (age 20 or younger), those who delayed entering college for a few year (20-24), and adult learners (over 24). Older students experienced some of the largest drops in completion rates. For example, the decline in completion rates for the delayed entry group was 4.7 percentage points. Adult learners experienced a decrease of 2.9 percent, compared to a decrease of only 0.75 for the younger (under 20) group.

Despite the fall 2009 cohort's lower rate of completion, the total number of graduates six years later was higher due to a much larger 2009 incoming class compared to that in fall 2008.

The NSCRC is the research arm of the National Student Clearinghouse. It collaborates with higher education institutions, states, school districts, high schools and educational organizations in an effort to inform education leaders and policymakers. 


Related Links

National Student Clearinghouse Research Center Report