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Degree Completion Percentage Rises – OnlineBusinessDegree.org

The overall six-year college completion rate for first-time students has risen to 54%, according to the most recent report released by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Completing College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates examines the different paths students navigate to earn a college degree or certificate. The report found that 12.1% of first-time degree-seeking students who enrolled in fall 2006 completed their degree or certificate at an institution other than the one at which they started. In accounting for these students, the completion rate increased across the board for each institution type and each student group in the study.

Among the findings:

  • 60.5% of students who began at four-year public institutions completed within six years, which includes 12% who completed at a different institution than the one they started
  • 36.3% of students who began at a two-year public institution received a degree or certificate within six years, with 12.4% completing at a different institution
  • 62.5% of students who began at a four-year private not-for-profit institutions completed within six years, including 12.9% who completed at a different institution
  • 37.8% of students who began at a four-year private for-profit institution completed within six years, while only 4.9% completed at a different institution

The statistics account for the fact that students attending different institutions is becoming more common.

The gain in completion rate for adult learners—those first entering college older than 24—who graduated at different institutions from which they began was lower than students who started college at age 24 or younger. Older students had an overall lower six-year completion rate compared to younger students, 56.8% to 42.1%, respectively.


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The report also found that completion rates for adult learners varied, depending on the type of institution attended. The completion rate at four-year, private, not-for-profit was 22% percentage points lower than for traditional age students; the gap was 18.5 percentage points for students at four-year public institutions.

However, at two-year public institutions, there was little difference among completion rates for the two age groups. The completion rate for older students enrolled in four-year, private, for-profit institutions was higher—by 8.9 percentage points—than traditional age students.

Overall, 15% of students who began at a two-year institution completed a degree at a four-year institution within six years, including nearly two-thirds who did so without first obtaining a two-year degree.

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