Information Brief 2012-24

College Degree Completion Rates

among ACT-tested high school graduates who immediately enrolled in a two-year institution

For seven years, we tracked the progress of a group of ACT-tested 2003 high school graduates who enrolled in a two-year college in fall 2003. This brief focuses on the degree completion rates of these students two, three, four, five, six, and seven years after enrolling.

As shown below, the associate’s degree completion rate increased from 8% to 27% between years 2 and 7, and the bachelor’s degree completion increased from 5% to 24% between years 4 and 7. Approximately, three out of every five students who completed a bachelor’s degree bypassed earning an associate’s degree. Altogether, the total completion rate for any degree reached 41% by the end of year 7.

Degree Completion Rates, Years 2 through 7

YearAssociate's and bachelor's degreesBachelor's degree onlyAssociate's degree only

Note: Reported percentages do not always equal the sum of those shown due to rounding. Based on National Student Clearinghouse data for a stratified random sample of 5,990 ACT-tested 2003 high school graduates who enrolled in a two-year college in fall 2003. The sample was weighted to be representative of the entire 2003 ACT-tested graduating class who immediately enrolled in college. For students enrolled in multiple institutions in fall 2003, initial institution type was based on the institution from which the student ultimately earned the highest degree by the end of the seven-year study and/or in which the student had enrolled for the greatest number of fall terms during the study. In the sample, less than 1 percent of the students were initially enrolled in more than one institution. Degree certificates were not examined for this study.

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