National and State Reports
With Six- and Eight-Year Completion Rates Dashboards
November 29, 2022
Progress in the national college completion rate has stalled. The latest rate of 62.3 percent is essentially unchanged from last year’s (62.2%). This follows a 1.2 percentage point improvement over the preceding year.
States are slow to improve, with only five states increasing at least 1 percentage point. This is a shift from last year when two-thirds of states made at least 1 percentage point rate gains.
This is the eleventh report in the Completing College report series, featuring the completion trends nationally and for states, updated with the fall 2016 entering cohort’s six-year outcomes tracked through June 2022, as well as the fall 2013 and 2014 entering cohorts’ outcomes within eight years of enrolling.
The longitudinal data dashboards offer six-year and eight-year national and cross-state comparisons through interactive visualizations and analysis tools. Underlying data are also available for downloading.
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.
Progress in the national college completion rate has stalled. The six-year completion rate for the fall 2016 cohort was 62.3 percent, essentially unchanged from the 2015 cohort (62.2%). This flatline follows the gain of 1.2 percentage points in the preceding year (2014 to 2015).
Six-year completion rates increased in over half of states, but improvements were small, with only five states increasing 1 percentage point (pp) or more. This is markedly different from the previous year when two-thirds of states had gains of at least 1 pp.
Completion rates decreased at similar rates for White, Black, and Latinx students, by approximately half a percentage point, but increased for Asian and Native American students (+1.2 pp and +3.0 pp respectively).
The gender gap in completion rates is steadily growing and is the widest seen since 2008 (7.1 pp).
Traditional-aged college students beginning in fall 2016 saw no change in their overall six-year completion rate. Completion rates continue to improve for older students. Older students continue to make gains but still lag behind traditional-aged students.
The national eight-year completion rates did not change between the fall 2013 and fall 2014 cohorts. An additional 4.5 percent of fall 2013 cohort and 4.2 percent of the fall 2014 cohort completed in their seventh and eighth years. Compared to other students, proportionally more Latinx and Asian students completed during their seventh and eighth years.