Despite Efforts to Increase Them, University Graduation Rates Fall
Among the 2009 starters, 53 percent have graduated within the subsequent six years, down 2 percentage points from the class that entered in 2008, according to the National Student Clearinghouse, an independent organization that tracks this. That means there were 71,000 fewer college graduates nationwide than from the group that started college in 2008, even as the White House and others warn that more degree holders are needed to fill jobs in the knowledge economy.
The rate at which students left school without earning any degree also rose, from about 30 percent to 33 percent. That means 153,000 students appear to have dropped out altogether with nothing to show for their educations except, in at least some cases, debt.
The biggest drop came among older students—those who started college not at 18, but at ages 20 to 24—fewer than 34 percent of whom graduated, down from more than 38 percent the year before.
The higher-education institutions with the worst graduation rates were four-year private, for-profit colleges and universities, fewer than a third of whose students got degrees.