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Progress in National College Completions Remain Stalled

by NSC Blog | Nov 30, 2023 | Research Reports, Research Services, Signature Reports

The latest National Student Clearinghouse Research Center report shows troubling news for some students considering a higher education degree: progress in the national college completion rate remains stalled.

The Completing College 2023 report found that the six-year completion rate for the fall 2017 cohort was 62.2 percent, essentially unchanged since 2015. 

“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.”

The six-year completion rates increased in over half of states, with nine states increasing 1 percentage point or more. This is up from the previous year when only five states had gains of at least 1 percentage point.

Trends differed at the sector level, however, with improvements nationally in community college completion rates (+0.4 percentage point) building on their previous year’s growth, while all four-year sectors experienced completion rate declines.

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 segments details by state, race, gender, age, and more. To read the report, visit Completing College.

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