The Hechinger Report is a national nonprofit newsroom that reports on one topic: education. Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get stories like this delivered directly to your inbox.

Get important education news and analysis delivered straight to your inbox

Choose from our newsletters

Four and a half years after producing more degree-holders became a national priority, graduation rates remain stubbornly flat, and only slightly more than half of all students continue to finish four-year programs within even six years, according to a new analysis.

The study, by the National Student Clearinghouse, found that the percentage of students who graduated within six years after starting toward either a four-year or a two-year degree is 54.2 percent, up only two-tenths of 1 percent from last year.

Of those, 12.4 percent finished at institutions other than the ones where they started. Another 30 percent of students dropped out, and 15.5 percent were still enrolled.

Though the overall average was virtually unchanged overall, public four-year institutions slightly improved their graduation rate, by 1.3 percentage points, and community colleges by 1.1 percentage points. In all, 37.4 percent of community college students completed school within six years—9 percent of them after transferring to four-year institutions.

Community colleges have long complained that their low graduation rates do not reflect that many of their students transfer and finish elsewhere.

The Hechinger Report provides in-depth, fact-based, unbiased reporting on education that is free to all readers. But that doesn't mean it's free to produce. Our work keeps educators and the public informed about pressing issues at schools and on campuses throughout the country. We tell the whole story, even when the details are inconvenient. Help us keep doing that.

Join us today.

Jon Marcus writes and edits stories about, and helps plan coverage of, higher education. A former magazine editor, he has written for The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Wired, Medium.com...

Letters to the Editor

At The Hechinger Report, we publish thoughtful letters from readers that contribute to the ongoing discussion about the education topics we cover. Please read our guidelines for more information.

By submitting your name, you grant us permission to publish it with your letter. We will never publish your email. You must fill out all fields to submit a letter.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *