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Report shows upward trend
in overall completion rate
By Halley Sutton, Assistant Editor
Nationwide completion rates increased by more
than two percentage points over the prior year,
according to a report issued by the National Stu-
dent Clearinghouse Research Center. The six-year
completion rate for the cohort who started in 2011
was 56.9 percent, higher than the pre-recession high-
est completion rate of 56.1 percent. The completion
rate correlates to 48,000 more graduates than the
2010 cohort the NSC studied in 2016, even with a
slightly smaller cohort for the 2011 group.
Key ndings include decrease
in two-year institution completion rates
Combined with the ﬁndings from 2016, the report
from 2017 indicates a trend of an increase in over-
all completion rates. The 2010 results showed that
the nationwide completion rate had increased for
the ﬁrst time since the Great Recession, rising 1.9
percentage points to 54.8 percent. The results for
the 2011 cohort surpassed the pre-recession rate
of completion for the ﬁrst time.
Other key ﬁndings from the report include:
➢ The proportion of traditional-aged students in-
creased, jumping from 73.8 percent in 2016’s study
to 76.8 percent in 2017’s study. Correspondingly,
the report showed a decrease in the proportion of
adult learners, decreasing from 18.8 percent to 13.7
percent of the cohort. There was no age data avail-
able for the remaining enrolled students.
➢ Among traditional-aged students, there was a
jump in full-time enrollment, from 39.5 percent in
the 2010 cohort to 45.7 percent in the 2011 cohort.
Of the students who enrolled exclusively full time,
80.1 percent completed a degree during the six-year
study, versus 20.5 percent of exclusively part-time
students, and 39.5 percent of mixed-enrollment
➢ The share of students enrolling in public four-
year institutions increased by 2.7 percent of the
cohort, and 1.9 percent more enrolled at four-year
private nonproﬁt institutions than did students in
the cohort of 2010.
➢ The completion rate at four-year public insti-
tutions also increased with this cohort, from 62.4
percent for those who ﬁrst enrolled in 2010 to 64.7
percent for students who began in 2011. The non-
proﬁt four-year institutional completion rate also
rose, from 73.9 percent for those who started in
2010 to 76 percent for the 2011 cohort.
➢ Enrollment at two-year institutions declined,
with 37.3 percent of students in the 2010 cohort
enrolled in a two-year institution down to 33.8 per-
cent of the 2011 cohort.
➢ There was also an overall decline in the com-
pletion rate for students who started at a two-year
institution, dropping from 39.3 percent to 37.5 per-
cent, regardless of whether completion occurred at a
two-year or four-year institution. However, the study
makes it clear that about half of this decrease can
be accounted for by the exclusion of dual-enrollment
high school students, who were included in the 2010
cohort. With the inclusion of these students, the
completion rate would have risen slightly, to 40.1
percent, in 2011.
➢ More than half of the enrolled 2011 cohort
were women (53.7 percent). Women enrolled at a
higher rate than male students regardless of race
or ethnicity, with the largest discrepancy coming for
black women, who accounted for 57.9 percent of all
enrolled black students.
➢ There were discrepancies between completion
rates among students of varying races and eth-
nicities. White and Asian students were the most
likely to complete their degree within six years, with
completion rates of 68.9 percent and 66.1 percent,
➢ Hispanic and black students had the lowest
completion rates, at 48.6 percent and 39.5 percent,
respectively. Black students were the only group who
were more likely to discontinue enrollment than to
receive a credential within six years (total completion
rate of 39.5 percent versus discontinued enrollment
rate of 42.8 percent).
➢ Among students who started at four-year public
institutions, black students had the lowest six-year
completion rate, with 46 percent. Hispanic students
had a completion rate of 55 percent.
➢ White students and Asian students had the
highest completion rates at four-year public institu-
tion, at 71.7 percent and 75.8 percent, respectively.
Download the report at http://bit.ly/2Bugs6k. ■
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