The federal government's formula for measuring college graduation rates leaves out huge numbers of students who have earned degrees - but not from the institution where they initially enrolled. The National Student Clearinghouse [reported this week] that 13 percent of students who started at four-year colleges in the fall of 2008 transferred and ended up getting a degree from another institution within six years. Yet they're still counted as non-completers. The problem is biggest in Minnesota, where 25 percent of graduates aren't counted as completers; Missouri is right behind, at 24 percent. The NSC breaks the data down by state and institution type.This from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center:
Completing College: A State-Level View of Student Attainment Rates
In the state supplement to our eighth Signature Report, a national study on college completion, we take a state-by-state look at the various pathways that students take to complete a college degree or certificate.Among the study’s findings:
- Nationally, 13 percent of students who started at four-year public institutions completed at an institution other than the starting institution. In 24 states, students who started at four-year public institutions had a higher completion rate elsewhere, with Minnesota having the highest rate at 25 percent followed by Missouri with 24 percent.
- Traditional graduation measures do not include student completions that happen at institutions other than the starting institution. This means that completions elsewhere are counted as non-persistence. Our state-specific results show that, in nearly every state, not tracking completions elsewhere would lead to at least a 20 percent increase in the non-persistence rate for students who started at four-year public institutions.
- Nationally, one in three students who started at two-year public institutions completed at an institution other than the one where they first enrolled. In seven states, more than 40 percent of all completions for two-year public starters happened elsewhere.
- In five states (Iowa, North Dakota, Virginia, Kansas, Texas), more than 20 percent of the students who started at two-year public institutions completed at a four-year institution (with or without first receiving a credential at a two-year institution) within six years. Kansas had the highest rate at 25 percent followed by Virginia at 23 percent (compared to 16 percent nationally).
- In 11 states, at least one in five women who started at two-year public institutions completed at a four-year institution. Only in two states did at least 20 percent of men who started at a two-year public institution complete at a four-year institution.
- In 16 states, for students who started at four-year private nonprofit institutions, the completion rate was over 74 percent, the overall U.S. completion rate for students who started in this sector. In all but one of those 16 states, one in 10 completions happened at an institution other than the starting institution. In two of states (Minnesota and New York), one in five students who started at four-year private non-profit institutions and completed a degree did so at an institution other than the one where they first enrolled.
- Tracking students who started college in one state and completed in another substantially added to the overall completion rate for students who started at four-year public and four-year private non-profit institutions. In 22 states, more than five percent of the starting cohort in four-year public institutions completed in a state different than the starting institution’s state. This was true for students who started at four-year private non-profit institutions in 33 states.
- In most states, traditional-age students starting at four-year public institutions had higher completion rates than the delayed entry (age 21-24) and adult learner (over age 24) groups. In six states (Arizona, California, Iowa, Michigan, New Mexico, and North Carolina), delayed entry students had a higher completion rate than traditional-age students.
- In only five states, at least one in three exclusively part-time students at four-year public institutions received a credential (compared to 21 percent nationally). In 21 states, more than 70 percent of students in this category had not received a credential and were not enrolled at the end of six years (compared to 68 percent nationally).