In the state supplement to our tenth Signature Report, a national study on college completion, we take a state-by-state look at the various pathways that students take to complete a college degree or certificate.


Suggested Citation: Shapiro, D., Dundar, A., Wakhungu, P., Yuan, X., Nathan, A & Hwang, Y. , A. (2016, February). Completing College: A State-Level View of Student Attainment Rates (Signature Report No. 10a). Herndon, VA: National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.



About This Report

AUTHORS

National Student Clearinghouse Research Center

  • Doug Shapiro
  • Afet Dundar

Project on Academic Success, Indiana University

  • Phoebe Khasiala Wakhungu
  • Xin Yuan
  • Angel Nathan
  • Youngsik Hwang

SPONSOR

This report was supported by a grant from the Lumina Foundation. Lumina Foundation, an Indianapolis-based private foundation, is committed to enrolling and graduating more students from college — especially 21st century students: low-income students, students of color, first-generation students and adult learners. Lumina’s goal is to increase the percentage of Americans who hold high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina pursues this goal in three ways: by identifying and supporting effective practice, through public policy advocacy, and by using our communications and convening power to build public will for change. For more information, log on to www.luminafoundation.org.


Among the study’s findings:

  • Nationally, the college completion rate for students who started in four-year public institutions declined from 2008 to 2009 by 1.7 percentage points, dropping to 61.2 percent from 62.9 percent. In 15 states, the direction of the change in the college completion rate was actually positive including four states (California, Connecticut, Iowa, and South Carolina) where the college completion rate for students who started in four-year public institutions increased by 1 to 2 percentage points.
  • Nationally, about 13 percent of students who started at a four-year public institution, completed at a school other than the starting institution. In 21 states, students who started in four-year public institutions had a higher completion rate elsewhere, with Minnesota having the highest rate at 25 percent followed by Missouri with about 23 percent.
  • The college completion rate for students who started at two-year public institutions also declined in the same period by one percentage point. In 12 states (Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Texas), the college completion rate for students who started in two-year public institutions stayed nearly unchanged or went up.
  • Thirty-two percent of students who started at two-year public institutions and completed did so at an institution other than the one where they first enrolled, nationally. In 10 states, over one-third of all completions for two-year public starters happened elsewhere. In California and Texas, more than 40 percent of all completions for students in this sector took place at an institution other than the one where they first enrolled.
  • Nationally, 15.1 percent — a 1.1 percent decline from last year — of those who started at a two-year public institution completed at a four-year institution (with or without first receiving a credential at a two-year institution) within six years. In five states (Iowa, North Dakota, Virginia, Kansas, and Texas), 20 or more percent of two-year starters completed at a four-year institution. In five states (California, Connecticut, Maine, North Dakota, and Washington), this rate did not decline, staying nearly unchanged or going slightly up.
  • The percentage of two-year starters who completed at a four-year institution within six years was higher among women than men, nationally: 16.9 percent and 13.9 percent, respectively. In 10 states (Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Virginia, Wyoming, Kansas, and Texas), at least one in five women who started at two-year public institutions completed at a four-year institution (with or without first receiving a credential at a two-year institution). This percentage did not reach 20 percent for men in any state.
  • In 16 states, at least, one in five completions for those who started at a four-year private nonprofit institution happened elsewhere. In five states (Delaware, Missouri, Kentucky, North Dakota, and South Dakota) at least one in four students who started at a four-year private non-profit institution and completed a degree did so at an institution other than the one where they first enrolled.
  • In 20 states, more than five percent of the starting cohort at a four-year public institution completed in a state different than the starting institution’s state. This was true for students who started at four-year private non-profit institutions in 30 states.

The Signature Report State Supplement includes detailed tables, providing a state-by-state overview of college completion outcomes within the four-year public, two-year public, and four-year private nonprofit sectors.


Introduction

As a supplement to Completing College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates – Fall 2009 Cohort (2015), hereafter “Completing College,” this report focuses on six-year student success outcomes and college completion rates by state. The results are displayed in three sets of tables organized by institution type, showing each state’s outcomes for students who started postsecondary education at four-year public institutions, two-year public institutions, and four-year private nonprofit institutions. Each set of tables provides state-level overviews of college completion outcomes.

Further results are included, showing state-level six-year outcomes for students:

  • By enrollment intensity across the six-year study period—exclusively full time (Tables 2, 11, 20), exclusively part time (Tables 3, 12, 21), and mixed (Tables 4, 13, 22);
  • By age at first entry to college—age 20 and younger (Tables 5, 14, 23), over age 20 through age 24 (Tables 6, 15, 24), and over age 24 (Tables 7, 16, 25);
  • By gender—women and men who started at each institution type (Tables 8, 17, 26 and 9, 18, 27, respectively).

According to the outcomes presented in Completing College, the overall six-year completion rate for first-time-in-college degree-seeking students who started college in fall 2009 was 52.9 percent, including 12.4 percent who completed at an institution different from their starting institution. In other words, nearly one in four students who completed a degree did so at an institution other than the one where they first enrolled. The number was closer to one in three for those who started at two-year public institutions. Findings from Completing College also showed that gains from completions elsewhere were higher for traditional-age students than for delayed entry students (over age 20 through age 24 at first entry) and adult learners (over age 24 at first entry).

The total completion rates for students who started at each of the three largest institution categories ranged from 38.1 percent for students who started at two‐year public institutions to 61.2 percent for those who started at four‐year public institutions and 71.5 percent for students who started at four‐year private nonprofit institutions (see Table i. below; see Completing College for further discussion). The overall proportion of students completing elsewhere, however, was roughly the same for students who started at any of these institution types — about 12 to 13 percent of the starting cohort.

Table i. Six-Year Outcomes by Starting Institution Type (N=2,911,898)

Institution Type Total Completion Rate (%) Completion at Same Institution (%) Completion at Different Institution (%) Still Enrolled (At Any Institution) (%) Not Enrolled (At Any Institution) (%)
Two-Year Four-Year
Overall 52.88 40.53 3.03 9.33 14.13 32.99
Four-Year Public 61.16 48.44 3.26 9.46 14.20 24.64
Four-Year Private Nonprofit 71.47 58.72 2.36 10.39 9.14 19.38
Four-Year Private For-Profit 32.75 23.88 1.93 6.94 11.11 56.14
Two-Year Public 38.14 26.00 3.18 8.96 16.60 45.27
Two-Year Private Nonprofit 45.07 31.69 3.41 9.97 14.58 40.34
Two-Year Private For-Profit 60.62 39.51 8.23 12.88 4.74 34.64

Building on the findings presented in Completing College, this follow-up report explores college completion rates for each state where the Clearinghouse historical data coverage1 for the study cohort was 65 percent or higher. Both Completing College and this supplement report focus on the cohort entering college as first-time students in fall 2009, following them through May 31, 2015, and highlighting six-year student outcomes including degree and certificate completion and continuing enrollment (persistence). Completions were identified using a combination of degree/certificate award records submitted by institutions as part of their participation in DegreeVerify and StudentTracker®. Details on weighting and the imputation of missing data can be found in Appendix A of Completing College.

1 Due to the need to establish students’ first-time status, only institutions that submitted enrollment data dating back to June 1, 2005 to the Clearinghouse are included in the report. Historical coverage rates are based on these institutions.

COHORT AND DATA DEFINITIONS

The cohort examined in this study is made up of first-time degree-seeking students who started their postsecondary studies in the fall of 2009, over 2.9 million students. Fall 2009 enrollments were defined as enrollment during any term beginning August 10 through October 31, inclusive: if the institution had no term begin date during this period, then between July 13 and August 9, 2009, inclusive. First-time status was established by confirming that a student (1) did not show any postsecondary enrollment record in the four years prior to summer 2009 and (2) did not receive a degree or certificate from any postsecondary institution prior to fall 2009, according to Clearinghouse data. Former dual enrollment students, first-time college students in fall 2009 who had taken college courses while still in high school were included in the study cohort.

HIGHLIGHTING STATE-LEVEL RESULTS

This supplemental report presents student outcomes by the state of students’ entering institution. Data coverage for the cohort identified in this study varies somewhat across states and across institution types within states (see Appendix A of this report for coverage by state and institution type). Accordingly, we have included state-by-state results for four-year public, two-year public, and four-year private nonprofit institutions, including under each of these categories only those states for which the historical data coverage for the cohort is 65 percent or higher. Using this approach, we produced tables showing results for 49 and 42 of the 50 states for four-year public and two-year public institutions respectively, and 40 states plus the District of Columbia for four-year private nonprofit institutions. Table ii., below, shows the states included in the tables presented for each institution type in this supplement to the national report.

Table ii. Representation of Each State in Results Tables by Institution Type

State Four-Year Public Two-Year Public Four-Year Private Nonprofit
Alabama X X
Alaska †† *
Arizona X *
Arkansas X X X
California X X X
Colorado X X X
Connecticut X X X
Delaware * X
District of Columbia X
Florida X X X
Georgia X X X
Hawaii X X
Idaho X X *
Illinois X X X
Indiana X X
Iowa X X X
Kansas X X
Kentucky X X X
Louisiana X
Maine X X X
Maryland X X X
Massachusetts X X X
Michigan X X
Minnesota X X X
Mississippi X X
Missouri X X X
Montana X X X
Nebraska X X X
Nevada X *
New Hampshire X * X
New Jersey X X X
New Mexico X
New York X X X
North Carolina X X X
North Dakota X X X
Ohio X X X
Oklahoma X
Oregon X X X
Pennsylvania X X X
Rhode Island * * X
South Carolina X X X
South Dakota X X X
Tennessee X X X
Texas X X X
Utah X * X
Vermont X * X
Virginia X X X
Washington X X X
West Virginia X
Wisconsin X X X
Wyoming * X

X Included in report
* Fewer than three institutions
(blank) Lower than 65% coverage
†† Results are not reported because the cohort includes both two-year and four-year enrollments.

To further guide readers regarding coverage, and consequently the relative confidence with which results should be interpreted, we grouped the states according to the following three levels of coverage:

  • Low coverage: States with coverage between 65 and 79 percent
  • Medium coverage: States with coverage between 80 and 89 percent
  • High Coverage: States with coverage of 90 percent or higher

Results


Appendix A: Coverage


Appendix B: Unique Student Headcounts by State and Institution Type

Appendix B provides unique student headcounts by state for each institution type. The final data set was created, drawing from the full cohort of all students enrolled in each sector and state, selecting out students identified as first-time-in-college, and finally excluding students identified as nondegree-seeking and applying a few other conditions. (For further detail on the definition of degree-seeking status and other exclusions applied, please see Completing College: A National View, Appendix A at Signature Report 10.) Counts from the final data set (Fall 2009 First-Time Degree-Seeking Cohort) are further broken out by student enrollment status, age at first entry, and gender.

Table B1. Total Counts for Students Who Started at Four-Year Public Institutions by Origin State

State Fall 2009 Cohort
Total Exclusively Full-Time Students Exclusively Part-Time Students Mixed Enrollment Students Age 20 or Younger at First Entry Over Age 20-24 at First Entry Over Age 24 at First Entry Women Men
States with High Historical Coverage (90% or higher)
Alabama 23,898 9,883 1,029 12,982 19,230 1,309 3,355 12,176 9,928
Alaska †† †† †† †† †† †† †† †† ††
Arizona 20,954 9,913 601 10,435 18,435 968 1,540 10,535 9,019
Arkansas 17,511 6,238 1,198 10,073 14,130 1,077 2,299 9,171 7,522
California 84,950 38,024 1,406 45,517 78,484 2,109 4,284 43,777 32,562
Colorado 26,079 11,312 1,212 13,546 22,519 937 2,613 12,214 11,359
Connecticut 9,496 5,873 306 3,317 8,619 221 655 4,654 4,033
Delaware * * * * * * * * *
Florida 104,627 21,803 16,463 66,348 77,645 7,843 19,131 57,250 43,758
Georgia 37,734 14,345 1,103 22,284 32,956 1,465 3,311 19,002 15,507
Hawaii 3,913 1,734 352 1,828 2,993 265 656 1,989 1,606
Idaho 9,717 3,152 718 5,845 7,566 607 1,542 4,813 4,018
Illinois 25,206 15,254 555 9,395 21,850 1,129 2,156 12,403 10,939
Iowa 9,898 6,394 200 3,303 8,905 401 567 5,028 4,751
Kansas 12,647 5,895 595 6,153 10,232 941 1,473 6,159 5,618
Kentucky 19,512 9,235 753 9,514 17,069 644 1,798 10,383 8,255
Louisiana 25,761 9,065 1,169 15,522 21,908 1,070 2,781 13,707 10,326
Maine 5,617 2,221 484 2,911 4,338 262 1,012 3,083 2,527
Maryland 22,989 9,992 3,375 9,611 14,324 2,265 6,396 10,026 10,723
Massachusetts 17,224 10,074 966 6,182 14,591 676 1,946 8,379 7,468
Michigan 39,036 18,107 1,124 19,801 34,816 1,470 2,749 20,489 16,728
Minnesota 23,189 8,923 657 13,610 20,737 958 1,472 12,108 9,982
Mississippi 9,018 4,848 262 3,904 7,787 369 863 4,920 3,694
Missouri 25,939 9,739 937 15,258 23,244 803 1,891 14,248 10,864
Montana 6,829 3,364 313 3,151 4,915 604 1,310 3,083 3,215
Nebraska 8,994 4,070 287 4,638 8,201 252 539 4,365 4,014
Nevada 17,084 2,606 4,302 10,171 10,436 1,483 5,113 8,751 7,619
New Hampshire 5,938 4,262 226 1,450 5,271 215 452 3,039 2,522
New Mexico 10,482 4,625 890 4,963 8,373 568 1,539 5,472 4,472
North Carolina 34,042 19,419 576 14,044 30,796 978 2,265 17,503 13,456
North Dakota 6,949 3,091 337 3,519 5,894 306 749 3,093 3,270
Ohio 61,162 26,357 2,787 31,995 50,894 3,266 6,994 31,230 26,558
Oregon 12,428 2,830 452 9,141 10,895 445 1,086 6,095 5,363
Pennsylvania 50,884 32,871 1,290 16,716 45,877 1,597 3,393 25,198 23,271
Rhode Island * * * * * * * * *
South Carolina 17,814 10,987 303 6,520 16,736 372 703 9,694 7,315
South Dakota 5,322 2,346 337 2,640 4,427 282 611 2,664 2,339
Tennessee 23,005 10,292 906 11,806 19,587 923 2,495 11,609 9,563
Texas 70,730 22,656 3,421 44,647 59,966 3,414 7,346 35,960 30,990
Utah 27,497 6,174 3,013 18,296 22,073 2,181 3,243 13,345 12,438
Vermont 4,363 3,040 108 1,215 4,010 150 203 2,298 2,041
Virginia 30,998 20,096 933 9,969 27,957 866 2,171 15,786 12,822
Washington 30,292 9,894 2,579 17,814 23,124 1,699 5,440 15,129 13,232
West Virginia 13,165 6,521 606 6,036 10,541 845 1,776 6,257 6,238
Wisconsin 30,623 15,958 1,481 13,177 26,548 1,261 2,814 15,333 13,176
Wyoming * * * * * * * * *
States with Medium Historical Coverage (80% ~ 89%)
New Jersey 20,042 12,878 689 6,476 17,638 642 1,758 9,885 9,370
New York 55,586 28,452 2,973 24,146 45,959 2,532 5,723 26,750 22,695
States with Low Historical Coverage (65% ~ 79%)
Oklahoma 16,387 4,924 2,071 9,388 11,425 1,598 3,339 8,101 7,128

NOTE: Counts represent unique students.
* Fewer than three institutions.
†† Results are not reported because the cohort includes both two-year and four-year enrollments.

Table B2. Total Counts for Students Who Started at Two-Year Public Institutions, by Origin State

State Fall 2009 Cohort
Total Exclusively Full-Time Students Exclusively Part-Time Students Mixed Enrollment Students Age 20 or Younger at First Entry Over Age 20-24 at First Entry Over Age 24 at First Entry Women Men
States with High Historical Coverage (90% or higher)
Arkansas 9,659 3,178 905 5,571 4,775 951 3,460 5,071 3,752
California 189,444 22,408 19,862 146,876 141,032 13,741 34,090 91,094 82,396
Colorado 17,435 4,297 2,440 10,696 10,007 1,881 5,546 8,199 7,581
Connecticut 10,294 1,645 1,709 6,940 6,790 1,072 2,430 5,022 4,182
Florida 38,117 7,523 4,677 25,903 26,951 3,399 7,688 20,650 15,967
Georgia 33,134 8,615 2,611 21,903 13,864 4,834 14,436 17,288 12,697
Hawaii 4,854 1,135 538 3,180 3,414 450 990 2,189 2,039
Idaho 4,432 1,329 402 2,691 2,475 526 1,431 2,138 1,948
Illinois 57,265 14,667 5,905 36,595 40,098 4,802 12,345 28,535 25,010
Indiana 3,413 420 741 2,248 1,484 498 1,430 1,855 1,403
Iowa 21,124 7,401 1,278 12,430 14,472 1,639 5,002 10,416 9,811
Kentucky 16,237 4,193 1,929 10,070 9,051 1,652 5,535 9,383 6,854
Maine 3,007 1,013 272 1,721 1,793 331 881 1,389 1,583
Maryland 26,021 6,149 2,465 17,394 18,213 2,240 5,566 12,972 10,194
Massachusetts 18,111 3,881 2,521 11,703 11,496 2,162 4,441 8,964 7,695
Michigan 45,216 8,772 5,723 30,664 28,324 3,848 13,032 22,607 19,880
Minnesota 25,234 7,530 2,077 15,620 15,750 2,807 6,659 12,463 12,767
Mississippi 16,998 6,775 632 9,581 10,807 1,837 4,352 9,195 6,474
Missouri 21,040 5,525 1,989 13,506 13,396 1,977 5,665 11,380 8,822
Nebraska 8,167 2,485 563 5,111 5,318 739 2,108 4,137 3,719
Nevada * * * * * * * * *
New Hampshire * * * * * * * * *
New Jersey 36,538 10,960 2,533 23,040 25,635 3,720 7,127 17,933 16,035
New York 66,684 24,443 2,861 39,355 47,370 6,913 11,161 31,629 28,398
North Carolina 46,733 13,184 3,670 29,854 26,517 4,311 15,887 24,853 19,971
North Dakota 1,206 611 ** 565 944 105 157 501 591
Ohio 36,637 7,690 3,946 24,970 19,689 3,990 12,953 19,656 15,038
Oregon 19,362 3,736 1,718 13,872 9,643 1,920 7,793 9,164 8,516
Pennsylvania 29,421 8,294 2,837 18,278 18,859 3,201 7,326 14,972 12,044
Rhode Island * * * * * * * * *
South Carolina 21,381 5,339 2,025 13,992 13,251 2,065 6,052 11,839 8,637
Tennessee 19,232 4,474 2,000 12,753 11,341 2,012 5,879 10,573 7,094
Vermont * * * * * * * * *
Virginia 31,957 6,043 3,778 22,132 21,966 2,691 7,300 16,369 13,355
Washington 33,457 10,355 1,336 21,756 21,107 2,846 9,494 16,221 14,007
Wisconsin 19,098 7,098 1,770 10,212 10,417 1,948 6,726 8,431 9,245
Wyoming 4,101 1,813 224 2,061 2,847 406 846 2,066 1,728
States with Medium Historical Coverage (80% ~ 89%)
Kansas 13,374 4,519 889 7,957 9,410 1,128 2,814 6,655 5,888
Montana 1,618 742 90 786 833 180 605 779 754
South Dakota 1,559 1,068 ** 462 866 209 479 607 799
Utah * * * * * * * * *
States with Low Historical Coverage (65% ~ 79%)
Texas 95,676 16,693 10,025 68,891 64,730 9,027 21,914 49,677 40,309

* Fewer than three institutions.
** Fewer than 50 students in subgroup.

Table B3. Total Counts for Students Who Started at Four-Year Private Nonprofit Institutions, by Origin State

State Fall 2009 Cohort
Total Exclusively Full-Time Students Exclusively Part-Time Students Mixed Enrollment Students Age 20 or Younger at First Entry Over Age 20-24 at First Entry Over Age 24 at First Entry Women Men
States with High Historical Coverage (90% or higher)
Alabama  4,424 2,312 102 2,009 3,736 189 496 2,431 1,755
Alaska * * * * * * * * *
California 23,276 15,398 538 7,337 19,447 1,110 2,704 12,338 9,214
Colorado 2,433 1,336 180 915 1,713 84 634 1,403 979
Connecticut 7,918 6,256 151 1,512 7,342 183 391 4,240 3,297
Delaware 1,343 402 185 755 820 134 384 680 655
District of
Columbia
8,806 5,847 363 2,596 7,561 300 935 4,651 3,374
Georgia 9,987 5,485 201 4,299 8,751 332 904 5,670 3,571
Idaho * * * * * * * * *
Illinois 24,676 15,764 821 8,086 21,012 971 2,677 13,045 9,958
Iowa 8,307 5,305 239 2,759 7,173 319 808 4,251 3,704
Maine 3,412 2,509 117 786 2,918 122 366 2,050 1,311
Maryland 6,302 4,761 293 1,248 5,324 189 788 3,410 2,336
Massachusetts 32,305 23,754 1,287 7,261 27,371 1,263 3,602 17,373 12,446
Minnesota 10,731 6,425 265 4,041 9,540 328 841 5,728 4,531
Missouri 16,247 7,266 1,731 7,242 9,787 1,163 5,282 8,533 7,043
Nebraska 4,080 2,694 111 1,274 2,716 132 1,229 2,132 1,783
New Hampshire 3,998 2,553 171 1,274 3,212 179 598 2,105 1,611
New Jersey 7,916 5,143 429 2,341 6,428 330 1,092 4,199 3,236
New York 66,997 43,118 2,017 21,852 57,416 2,891 6,622 35,132 27,242
North Carolina 12,411 8,422 215 3,773 11,019 384 1,004 6,600 4,986
Ohio 22,505 13,817 783 7,897 19,671 676 2,133 11,209 10,171
Oregon 3,963 2,492 100 1,371 3,556 100 306 2,138 1,497
Pennsylvania 43,996 31,099 1,474 11,422 39,249 1,157 3,529 23,240 17,982
Rhode Island 4,800 3,649 56 1,095 4,130 280 389 2,217 2,355
Texas 16,991 9,620 741 6,629 14,483 604 1,879 9,022 7,059
Utah 6,577 2,967 85 3,524 5,371 326 879 3,268 2,988
Vermont 2,411 1,661 74 676 2,155 80 174 997 1,371
Virginia 15,099 7,631 1,208 6,253 10,666 610 3,822 7,951 6,400
Washington 5,467 3,821 72 1,575 4,952 116 397 3,150 2,024
Wisconsin 8,582 5,423 330 2,829 7,517 222 840 4,686 3,336
States with Medium Historical Coverage (80% ~ 89%)
Arkansas 2,300 1,454 95 750 2,025 70 203 1,261 948
Florida 12,478 7,211 588 4,642 9,277 655 2,530 6,791 5,074
Indiana 11,223 7,462 231 3,436 9,296 298 1,613 5,916 4,862
Kentucky 5,477 2,555 167 2,751 4,837 141 499 2,958 2,280
North Dakota 625 380 ** 236 520 ** 82 333 283
South Carolina 5,568 3,454 110 2,003 4,991 217 352 3,130 2,118
Tennessee 10,594 6,161 284 4,148 9,330 331 904 5,644 4,289
States with Low Historical Coverage (65% ~ 79%)
Arizona * * * * * * * * *
Montana 685 394 ** 254 587 ** 73 366 283
South Dakota 1,272 488 ** 736 1,154 ** 93 698 539

* Fewer than three institutions.
** Fewer than 50 students in subgroup.