Of All Sectors, Community College Starters See Largest Increase in Completion Rates
HERNDON, VA – (Feb. 3, 2022) – According to new research by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, the national six-year completion rate for the 2015 cohort reached 62.2%, a 1.2 percentage point increase over the 2014 cohort. Students from all starting institution sectors saw increases in completion rates, with the largest increase of 1.5 percentage points among community colleges starters. This is the third consecutive year where national completion rates were higher than 60% (see Figure 1 below).
“Students who started college six years ago have been completing degrees and certificates at higher rates than in recent years,” said Doug Shapiro, Executive Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “This broad measure of performance for higher education as a nationwide system, including transfers among two- and four-year schools of all kinds, shows long-term improvements for students and colleges alike, gains that took hold mostly in the pre-pandemic period.”
Other key findings in the Completing College: National and State Report include:
- Six-year completion rates increased in 32 out of the 46 states with sufficient data. This is compared to the prior year when completion rates only increased in 12 out of 46 states. Figure 4 shows change in overall six-year, college completion rate by state.
- Completion rates increased for White, Black, and Latinx students this year, with the largest jump for Black students, showing an increase of 1.9 percentage points. Asian student completion rates remained virtually unchanged.
- Adult learners, students who were older than 24 at the time of entry, saw the largest one-year increases in the six-year completion rate. This small group of students, comprising 8.6% of the 2015 entering cohort, as shown in Figure 5, saw a 2.5 percentage point increase to 50.5 percent. Traditional college-age students continue to see higher completion rates than older students in both genders.
Newly added this year, the longitudinal data dashboard offers detailed six-year completion outcomes over time and across starting institution sectors and student demographic characteristics and enrollment intensities. This makes national and state-level historical data accessible through interactive visualizations and analysis tools.
As the tenth in the Completing College series, this report updates the six-year, college completion rates nationally and by state, by tracking the enrollment and completion outcomes for the fall 2015 cohort of beginning college students through June 2021.
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.
The Research Center currently collects data from more than 3,600 postsecondary institutions, which represent 97 percent of the nation’s postsecondary enrollments in degree-granting institutions, as of 2019. Clearinghouse data track enrollments nationally and are not limited by institutional and state boundaries. To learn more, visit https://nscresearchcenter.org.