Progress in National College Completion Rates Continue to Stall, with Declines at Four-Year Institutions

  1. NEWS HOME
  2. »
  3. Press Releases
  4. »
  5. Page 2

Progress in National College Completion Rates Continue to Stall, with Declines at Four-Year Institutions

HERNDON, VA – (NOVEMBER 30, 2023) – Progress in the national college completion rate remains stalled, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s latest report. The six-year completion rate for the fall 2017 cohort was 62.2 percent, essentially unchanged since 2015.

The Completing College 2023 report found that six-year completion rates increased in over half of states, with nine states increasing 1 percentage point (pp) or more. This is up from the previous year where only five states had gains of at least 1 pp. Trends differed at the sector level, however, with improvements nationally in community college completion rates (+0.4 pp) building on their previous year’s growth, while all four-year sectors experienced completion rate declines.

“The rising risk of leaving college short of a diploma could be troubling news for students contemplating bachelor’s degree programs today,” said Doug Shapiro, Executive Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “Not only have fewer of the 2017 starters completed as of 2023, but the data also show fewer still enrolled, suggesting that this is more than just a matter of slower progress during the pandemic years.”

This is the twelfth report 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 2017 cohort of beginning college students through June 2023. The report also features national eight-year completion outcomes for fall 2015 through June 2023.

Highlights of the report include:

  • Completions rates stalled or declined across all ethnicities, with Native American (-2.0 pp) and Black students (-0.4 pp) posting the largest decreases.
  • The gender gap in completion rates continues to grow and is the widest seen since 2008 (7.2pp in favor of women).
  • Traditional-aged students entering college in fall 2017 saw declines in their overall six-year completion rate. Adult learners continue to make gains, but still lag behind traditional-aged students.
  • The national eight-year completion rate for the fall 2015 cohort declined 0.5pp from 2014. Only 2.4 percent of the cohort completed in the seventh and eighth years, the lowest rate in the past five cohorts.

For the comprehensive Completing College 2023 report, you can visit: https://nscresearchcenter.org/completing-college/

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. To learn more, visit nscresearchcenter.org.

###

Undergraduate Enrollment Grows for The First Time Post Pandemic, Despite Freshmen Declines

  1. NEWS HOME
  2. »
  3. Press Releases
  4. »
  5. Page 2

Undergraduate Enrollment Grows for The First Time Post Pandemic, Despite Freshmen Declines

New Report Shows Community Colleges Lead in Enrollment Growth

HERNDON, VA – (OCTOBER 26, 2023) – This fall, undergraduate enrollment grew for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s latest report. Initial fall 2023 enrollment data shows undergraduate enrollment increased 2.1 percent compared to 2022 and is now 1.2 percent above 2021 enrollments.

The Stay Informed with the Latest Enrollment Information report for fall 2023 found that graduate enrollment also slightly increased this fall (+0.7%), with continued enrollment growth in graduate certificate programs (+5.7% this year, +9.9% since 2021). This report reflects preliminary data covering 9.6 million undergraduate and graduate students, as reported by 55 percent of Title IV degree-granting institutions that are participating in the Clearinghouse, as of September 28, 2023.

All major sectors grew, but community colleges (+4.4%) accounted for 58.9 percent of the increase in undergraduates. This comes after promising initial gains in community college enrollment last spring. Community college enrollment gains were widespread with students 24 and younger increasing at all levels of pre-college neighborhood income.

Despite overall undergraduate enrollment growth, freshman enrollment declined by 3.6 percent, reversing fall 2022 gains (+4.6%), and now at just 0.8 percent above fall 2021 enrollment. Almost all the freshman declines occurred in bachelor’s programs at public and private nonprofit four-year institutions (-6.9% and -4.7%, respectively), reversing their gains from 2022. Freshmen at community colleges and primarily associate degree-granting baccalaureate (PAB) institutions, meanwhile, largely stabilized following their gains in 2022 (-0.2% and +0.3%, respectively). Notably, freshman losses at four-year institutions were smaller at the less-selective schools (-0.9%) compared to the competitive (-5.5%), very competitive (-7.3%), and highly selective (-5.9%) categories.

“This is good news for community colleges and for the growing numbers of continuing and returning students who had lost momentum from the start of the pandemic,” said Douglas Shapiro, Executive Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “In a more troubling sign, however, the initial recovery among freshmen last year appears to have stalled as more 18-to-20-year-olds, especially at four-year institutions, are opting out.”

Among the 46 states for which sufficient data is available, less than a quarter had declines in overall enrollment, ranging from -0.3 percent in Hawaii, Nebraska, and New Hampshire to -4.7 percent in Vermont. California, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, and Wyoming all saw enrollment growth of at least 4 percent. A similarly small share of states saw undergraduate enrollment declines.

Other key findings of the report include:

  • Students continue to gravitate towards shorter-term credentials, with enrollments in undergraduate certificate programs jumping 9.9 percent, compared to 3.6 percent for associate degrees and just 0.9 percent for bachelor’s degrees.
  • Growth at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) has outpaced the overall undergraduate enrollment growth (+6.1% vs +2.1%).
  • Black, Latinx, and Asian students accounted for most of the undergraduate and graduate enrollment growth this fall.
  • Enrollment of White students continued to decline at both the undergraduate (-0.9%) and graduate levels (-1.9%), and most acutely among freshmen (-9.4%).
  • Undergraduates grew at both ends of the age spectrum, with students 18-20 and 30 or older each adding about 3 percent this fall. Those under 18 (dual enrolled high school students), however, continued to outpace all undergrads with an 8.8 percent jump.
  • Among traditional-aged undergraduate students, enrollment is up across all neighborhood income levels, with students from the lowest income areas gaining 3.6 percent and those from the highest income areas gaining 1.4 percent this year.
  • Female enrollment increased this fall (+1.2%) but at a slower rate than their male counterparts (+2.2%), a continuation of the greater pandemic impact on women first seen in fall 2021.
  • Enrollment in healthcare programs is starting to rebound after pandemic declines, especially among those seeking undergraduate certificates and associate degrees (+5.7% and +4.4%, respectively).

For the full report, you can visit: Stay Informed with the Latest Enrollment Information. Results are preliminary as of September 28, 2023, and subject to change as more data is reported for the fall of 2023. The complete Fall 2023 Current Term Estimates are scheduled to be released early next year.

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. To learn more, visit nscresearchcenter.org.

###

The National Student Clearinghouse Announces Helen Mohrmann as Newest Board Member

  1. NEWS HOME
  2. »
  3. Press Releases
  4. »
  5. Page 2

The National Student Clearinghouse Announces Helen Mohrmann as Newest Board Member

HERNDON, VA (AUGUST 22, 2023) – The National Student Clearinghouse announced today that Helen Mohrmann, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) of the University of Texas System (UT System), will join their Board of Directors.

“Helen’s unique depth of background in multiple industries and her current position at the University of Texas System make her a perfect addition to the Clearinghouse board of directors,” said Rick Torres, President and CEO, of the National Student Clearinghouse. “With the evolving information security landscape, the Clearinghouse has had a CISO role as part of its board for the past decade. Helen’s deep subject matter expertise and experiences will serve to advance our mission as a trusted source for higher education data.”

“I am honored to join the Clearinghouse Board and look forward to playing a role in student success through the creation and distribution of unique data resources that will help us better understand student pathways and outcomes,” said Helen Mohrmann. “The Clearinghouse provides valuable reporting, research, verification, transcript, and data exchange that provides numerous time- and cost-saving benefits to students, schools, administrators, and requestors.”

Helen has been in her current role at the University of Texas system since 2016 where she works with each UT System institution to continually improve their security posture and capabilities. Her office is responsible for the development and administration of systemwide policies. Prior to this role, she served as the Chief Information Officer of the Brookings Institution, in various IT roles at Cornell University, and in leadership roles in software and financial services organizations.

Helen has held several advisory and board roles during her career, including as a member of the Texas Cybersecurity Council, a member of the Statewide Information Security Advisory Committee at the Texas Department of Information Resources, and an advisory board member of the Woman’s Mentoring Network at the Brookings Institution.

She holds a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin, a B.S. from Cornell University, and an A.M. from Harvard University. She is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

The Clearinghouse is governed by a board of directors comprised of a cross-section of the constituencies that it serves, including representatives from educational institutions, educational associations, and the education finance industry. The makeup of the Clearinghouse’s board reflects its status as a trusted, neutral, and reliable source for educational information and services.

About the National Student Clearinghouse®

The National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit formed in 1993, is the trusted source for and leading provider of higher education verifications and electronic education record exchanges. Besides working with nearly 3,600 postsecondary institutions, the Clearinghouse also provides thousands of high schools and districts with continuing collegiate enrollment, progression, and completion statistics on their alumni. Education partners throughout the nation trust the National Student Clearinghouse because they know we take our commitment to student privacy very seriously. We focus on serving our customers with high-quality services that they expect from us. The Clearinghouse is scrupulous in its concern for student privacy and compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects students’ privacy rights in their education records. For more details, visit studentclearinghouse.org.

###

The National Student Clearinghouse Announces Cameron Watt as New Vice President of Sales for Education Solutions

  1. NEWS HOME
  2. »
  3. Press Releases
  4. »
  5. Page 2

The National Student Clearinghouse Announces Cameron Watt as New Vice President of Sales for Education Solutions

HERNDON, VA (JULY 28, 2023) – The National Student Clearinghouse announced today that Cameron Watt will join as the new Vice President of Sales for Education Solutions. In his new role, Cameron will work to build and expand relationships with the Clearinghouse’s nationwide customer base. He will also develop and execute a comprehensive sales and business development strategy to expand the adoption of new education solutions nationwide.

“The Clearinghouse is pleased to welcome Cameron as an integral member of our leadership team,” said Chris Goodson, Chief Growth Officer, of the National Student Clearinghouse. “Cameron has strong leadership skills and a wealth of experience at the nexus of business, cloud technologies, data, and education. His dedication to developing people and teams and his deep experience with the education community will be invaluable to the Clearinghouse and to advancing our mission.”

“I am very excited to join the Clearinghouse, continuing my 25-year career working with the higher ed community,” said Cameron. “This is a fantastic opportunity to leverage my higher ed technology and data experience with a growing organization that has a trusted, 30-year track record serving its stakeholders. I look forward to working with the Clearinghouse team to expand the footprint of existing services and develop new services that help our education partners advance their mission.”

Before joining the National Student Clearinghouse, Cameron served as the Education Sales Director-Northeast at Snowflake, a data cloud solution for organizations looking to store, manage, and leverage their data. He previously was the head of State and Local Government- Northeast for Google Cloud and also spent over six years at Amazon Web Services managing the Enterprise higher ed business across the U.S. Cameron additionally worked at Microsoft for 10 years in various education-related roles including, East Education Sales Manager (K-20).

Cameron received his B.A. in Political Science from Alfred University and his Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix.

About the National Student Clearinghouse®

The National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit formed in 1993, is the trusted source for and leading provider of higher education verifications and electronic education record exchanges. Besides working with nearly 3,600 postsecondary institutions, the Clearinghouse also provides thousands of high schools and districts with continuing collegiate enrollment, progression, and completion statistics on their alumni. Education partners throughout the nation trust the National Student Clearinghouse because they know we take our commitment to student privacy very seriously. We focus on serving our customers with high-quality services that they expect from us. The Clearinghouse is scrupulous in its concern for student privacy and compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects students’ privacy rights in their education records. For more details, visit studentclearinghouse.org.

###

Nearly 76% of Fall 2021 Freshman Class Returned to College by Fall 2022

  1. NEWS HOME
  2. »
  3. Press Releases
  4. »
  5. Page 2

Nearly 76% of Fall 2021 Freshman Class Returned to College by Fall 2022

This Persistence Rate Represents a Return to Pre-Pandemic Levels

HERNDON, VA (JULY 27, 2023) – Of the 2.4 million students who entered college for the first time in the fall of 2021, 75.7 percent persisted at any U.S. institution by fall 2022, according to a new report released today from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. This persistence rate is 0.9 percentage points above the previous cohort and matches the pre-pandemic average for the 2016 to 2018 freshman classes.

The 2023 Persistence and Retention report found that 67.2 percent of fall 2021 entering students were retained at their starting institution for their second year or earned a credential at that institution within a year of enrollment, a rate 0.5 percentage points above the pre-pandemic average. An additional 8.6 percent transferred out and continued enrollment at another institution by their second fall. This transfer-out rate was essentially flat compared to the previous cohort, meaning that gains in persistence among fall 2021 college starters were driven by the higher share remaining at their starting institution into their second year.

“It is very encouraging to see that the students who entered college in the second year of the pandemic have stayed enrolled at higher rates,” said Doug Shapiro, Executive Director of the Research Center. “The 0.9 pp recovery from the suppressed persistence level of those who started in fall 2020 means nearly 22,000 more students are still in college today.”

Not all institution sectors saw persistence and retention improvements. While community colleges, as well as public and private nonprofit four-year institutions, saw increases in both persistence and retention rates this year, private for-profit four-year colleges and primarily associate degree-granting baccalaureate (PAB) institutions experienced declines. This marks the second consecutive year that community colleges saw gains, approaching levels of persistence and retention not seen since the 2018 entering class. Nonetheless, the community college freshman class continued to shrink in fall 2021 while freshman enrollment recovered to pre-pandemic levels in other sectors.

As more people sought short-term, skilled trade credentials in fall 2021, the share of certificate seekers who earned a credential in their first year or persisted into their second fall increased across the top skilled trade majors by enrollment—mechanic and repair technologies, precision production, construction trades, and personal and culinary services. Health care majors’ persistence and retention rates improved at all credential levels, but enrollment in these majors was flat among bachelor’s degree seekers and declined among other undergraduates. Computer science, which witnessed double-digit enrollment growth, has also seen increases in persistence and retention among freshmen at all credential levels.

Nationally, retention rates increased regardless of enrollment intensity, while persistence increased only for full-time students and held steady for part-time students. Public two-year institutions were the only sector to experience increases in both full-time and part-time persistence. Both persistence and retention rates declined for part-time students at public and private for-profit four-year institutions, as well as at PABs.

Disparities by race and ethnicity remain large, with a 26-percentage point persistence rate gap between the highest (88.4% for Asian students) and the lowest (62.1% for Native American students). Of note, Native American student persistence and retention increased after sharp decreases last year. Latinx persistence and retention increased in all sectors except for PABs.

Gender-related disparities were stable at the national level compared to last year’s cohort: Persistence and retention rates for female students are nearly 3 percentage points higher than those of their male peers. However, the magnitude of this gender disparity differs by sector. Public four-year institutions have the smallest gender disparity in both persistence and retention, while private for-profit four-year institutions have the largest.

In terms of age, persistence and retention rates held steady or increased this year for starters 20 years old or younger, leading to a 1.4-percentage point increase in both rates nationally for this group. In contrast, rates for older students fell. Those 21 to 24 lost roughly one percentage point, driven by marked declines in persistence and retention at public and private nonprofit four-year institutions that nearly erased last year’s gains. Those 25 and older experienced larger declines in both rates regardless of sector.

The Persistence and Retention report series examines first-year persistence and retention rates for first-time college students. This annual report helps institutions understand trends and disparities in this important early success indicator by institutional type, state, credential type, starting enrollment intensity, major, and student demographic characteristics such as age, gender, and race/ethnicity. This year’s report includes a new data dashboard to enable viewers to analyze, visualize, and interact with the longitudinal data, which are also available for download.

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. To learn more, visit nscresearchcenter.org.

###

National Student Clearinghouse and AstrumU Launch Service to Translate Transcripts to Data Accurately in Minutes

  1. NEWS HOME
  2. »
  3. Press Releases
  4. »
  5. Page 2

National Student Clearinghouse and AstrumU Launch Service to Translate Transcripts to Data Accurately in Minutes

Service Has Potential to Ease Education-to-Career Paths as Greater Emphasis is Placed on Skills and Credentials

HERNDON, VA, and SEATTLE, WA (JUNE 15, 2023) – In a move to create efficiency, transparency, and opportunity for learners, the National Student Clearinghouse and AstrumU have launched PDF-to-Data, a machine-learning service that has demonstrated over 99% accuracy translating PDF transcripts into an industry-standard data format to enable automated ingestion. The resulting data will be used to optimize processes related to admissions, transfer credit, and financial aid.

“PDF-to-Data solves the longstanding problem of critical information trapped in a ‘digital paper’ format, like transcripts, that prevents easy access and sharing, and also paves the way for a second goal we share with the Clearinghouse: improving institutions’ and learners’ ability to stay ahead of our societal shift toward a competency-based marketplace,” said Adam Wray, CEO AstrumU. “Further, the easier we make the ‘process’ side of education and employment, the more time students and job seekers can spend on securing the right credentials and employers on more quickly identifying top candidates.”

Moving beyond decades-old OCR tools to leverage the latest machine-learning technology, PDF-to-Data seamlessly delivers PESC XML or TS130 EDI standard data files to an institution’s Clearinghouse account within minutes after a PDF transcript is received. The patented parsing engine models each sender’s transcript template and converts them while maintaining all critical relationships between data points in the output. The resulting transcript data files can be uploaded directly to existing CRM or student information systems without manual intervention, thereby reducing potential errors and allowing resources to be dedicated to more intensive needs. All of this is provided through a SaaS model thereby eliminating any hardware or software requirements for schools to manage transcript conversion.

“This PDF-to-Data transcript solution is a natural extension of the services and information we’ve long provided institutions and learners,” said Chris Goodson, Chief Growth Officer, National Student Clearinghouse. “PDF-to-Data will simplify a crucial step in the existing process and help build a foundation for new ways to manage and maximize an education-to-career pathway that increasingly accounts for skills, certificates, and non-degree credentials.”

National Student Clearinghouse President and CEO Rick Torres will speak on related issues at this year’s AstrumU Forum for Education & Enterprise (Washington DC, July 13) where his panel will cover “Rethinking the College to Career Pipeline.”

About the National Student Clearinghouse®

The National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit formed in 1993, is the trusted source for and leading provider of higher education verifications and electronic education record exchanges. Besides working with nearly 3,600 postsecondary institutions, the Clearinghouse also provides thousands of high schools and districts with continuing collegiate enrollment, progression, and completion statistics on their alumni. Education partners throughout the nation trust the National Student Clearinghouse because they know we take our commitment to student privacy very seriously. We focus on serving our customers with high-quality services that they expect from us. The Clearinghouse is scrupulous in its concern for student privacy and compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects students’ privacy rights in their education records. For more details, visit studentclearinghouse.org.

About AstrumU

AstrumU® translates educational experiences into economic opportunity. We are on a mission to quantify the return on education investment for learners, education providers, and employers. We help institutions measure the value created for incoming and returning students, while assisting them in securing industry partnerships that lead students seamlessly into high-demand career pathways. Institutions partner with AstrumU® to drive enrollment and increase alumni and corporate engagement, while extending economic mobility opportunities inclusively to all learners.

###

Subscribe to get the latest news from the Clearinghouse