Completing College
National and State Reports

With New Longitudinal Data Dashboard

February 3, 2022

The national six-year college completion rate reached 62.2 percent, a 1.2 percentage point increase from last year. The completion rate increased regardless of starting institution types. Two-thirds of states increased at least 1 percentage point in completion rates over last year.

This is the tenth report in the Completing College report series, featuring the completion rate trends nationally and for states, updated with the fall 2015 entering cohort’s outcomes tracked through June 2021.

The new longitudinal data dashboard offers national and multi-state comparisons through interactive visualizations and analysis tools. Underlying data are available online for downloading. The national eight-year completion rates are not included in the current report and will be published at a later time.

The Completing College report series provides a comprehensive overview of postsecondary completion trends nationally and by state. For all students who enter postsecondary education for the first time each year, it examines the diverse pathways the student traversed toward completion, as well as a degree or certificate completion rate within six and eight years of enrolling.

The completion rates account for all students who enter postsecondary education for the first time each year, enrolling full-time or part-time at two-year or four-year institutions, and completing at any U.S. degree-granting institution. The results include those who complete after transfer, not just completions at the starting institution. Thus, the report more fully captures today’s students’ diverse pathways to success, that increasingly involve mobility across institutions and across state lines, re-entry after stop-out, and changes in enrollment intensities.

Highlights

  • The national six-year completion rate for the fall 2015 beginning cohort reached 62.2 percent, a 1.2 percentage point (pp) increase over the 2014 cohort. Students from all starting institution types saw increases in completion rates, with the largest increase among community colleges starters (+1.5 pp).
  • Two-thirds of states improved by 1 pp or more in completion rates (32 out of the 46 states with sufficient data), in contrast to 12 states last year.
  • Completion rates increased for White, Latinx, and Black students this year, with the largest jump among Black students (+1.9 pp), while Asian student completion rates remained virtually unchanged.
  • Adult learners (older than 24 at first entry) showed the largest completion rate increases, particularly at the public four-year and community college sectors. However, traditional college-age students continue to see higher completion rates than older students of both genders.
  • Shifting student demographics and enrollment patterns may have contributed to the rate increases. Traditional college-age students and public four-year starters comprised a greater share of the 2015 cohort. This is part of a longer-term trend.    

Have suggestions for new analyses related to this publication?
Share your ideas here.

Subscribe to get the latest from the Research Center

Name:
Organization:
Email: