2016 cohort completion rate of 62.3% is slightly higher than the previous year
Report shows Latino students were among the ethnic groups with the highest completion rate fall.
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According to a report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, more than 2.4 million people entered postsecondary education for the first time fall 2016, an increase of 1.4%, or 33,000 students, compared to the previous cohort.
A most recent report from the research center stated that the six-year completion rate for those students reached 62.3%, the highest level this decade. However, it is only 0.1 percentage point above the previous year’s cohort. On top of that, trends showing differences among racial and ethnic groups increase concern for some communities.
According to Higher Ed Dive, completion rates declined across all measured categories at public four-year colleges. Latinx students had the second highest fall — by 3.2 percentage points to 57.1%. Black students rate declined by 1.1 percentage points to 50.2% — it is important to note that the report noted that the decline among Black students is entirely due to the reclassification of the 25 community colleges.
For White students at public four-year colleges, completion rates declined 0.8 percentage points to 73.5%.
For the first time in recent years, the six-year completion rates dropped among public four-year and private, nonprofit four-year starters (-1.0 percentage points to 68% and -0.5 percentage points to 77.8%, respectively), while the size of these cohorts increased.
The report showed positive trends for some institutions. Community colleges presented a 43.1% completion rate for students who started college six years ago — which is up 0.9 percentage points from the previous year’s cohort.
Four-year for-profit colleges saw similar gains, with completion rates rising 1.2 percentage points to 47.6%.
However, Higher Ed Dive points out that some of these changes are due to colleges switching to different categories, the report noted. From 2015 to 2016, 25 community colleges were reclassified as four-year institutions because, while they primarily grant associate degrees, they also offer some bachelor’s programs.
The report credits this change to the completion rate decrease at four-year public institutions sector and the increase at community colleges.
Other concerns about the report showed how students are often opting to not keep pursuing an education. According to a statement by Doug Shapiro — the research center’s executive director — among the fall 2016 cohort, 37.7% have yet to complete any degree or credential. However, only 8.9% of students are still enrolled, while more 28% have left college without finishing their credentials.
To read other highlights about the report, click here.