Completion Rates Flat Over All
National completion rates have plateaued, and community college completion rates decreased, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
The six-year completion rate for those who started college in 2014 is up by only 0.3 percent, bringing it to 60.1 percent, the center found. The national eight-year completion rate fell by 0.5 percentage points to 61.3 percent — the first decline in years.
Increases in the six-year completion rate had been slowing for years, according to a news release. Between the 2010 and 2011 cohorts, the improvement was 2.2 percentage points. That fell to 1.4 percentage points between the 2012 and 2013 cohorts.
Adult completion rates are generally increasing, said Doug Shapiro, executive director of the center, in a news release. But completion rates for traditional-age students are plateauing, and those students made up the majority of the 2014 cohort.
Completion rates for four-year college are doing better than those of community colleges. Community colleges were the only type of institution to see an overall drop, of 0.5 percentage points, in the six-year completion rate. Completion rates for Hispanic community college students who were older declined by 2.2 percentage points, and those who delayed entry saw the largest decline at 4.8 percentage points. Completion rates for Asian community college students increased by 1.3 percentage points.
Completion rates at public four-year colleges improved by 0.7 percentage points, and rates at private nonprofit four-year colleges improved by 0.2 percentage points. Completion rates for Black students at public four-years increased by one percentage point.
For-profit four-year colleges improved the most, with a 3.1-percentage-point gain in completion rates.
It’s unlikely that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected this year’s six- and eight-year completion rates, the report states.