Graduation Numbers to be Concerned About

Complete College America and its Alliance of States released their latest report Monday, titled Four-Year Myth. Below are a few numbers, national and Indiana-specific, that explain that title and its consequences.

Nationally

  • At public two-year institutions, 5% of full-time students pursuing associates degrees graduate on time. An extra year costs $15,933 in tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation and other expenses. In addition, students give up approximately $35,000 in lost wages by graduating late. The total cost: $50,933.
  • At public four-year institutions, 19% (non-flagship) and 36% (flagship/very high research) of full-time students graduate on time. An extra year costs $22,826 in tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation and other expenses. In addition, students give up more than $45,000 in lost wages by graduating late. The total cost is over $68,000.
  • Only 50 out of the more than 580 public four-year institutions reviewed have on-time graduation rates at or above 50% for their first-time, full-time students.

Indiana

  • 6% of full-time students pursuing associates degrees at two-year institutions graduate on time. On average, students graduate in four years with 93 credits (rather than the customary 60 credits). Each extra year costs $51,748 in school-related expenses and lost wages.
  • 17% of full-time students at four-year non-flagship institutions graduate on time. On average, students graduate in five years with 143 credits, rather than the customary 120 credits. Each extra year costs $68,176 in school-related expenses and lost wages.
  • 42% of full-time students at four-year flagship/very high research institutions graduate on time. On average, students graduate in 4.4 years with 134 credits, rather than the customary 120 credits. Each extra year costs $68,176 in school-related expenses and lost wages.

According to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, the state has a number of  initiatives underway that support on-time completion, including:

  • Requiring clear semester-by-semester degree maps for every public college student
  • Promoting more proactive college advising practices to keep students on track and intervene as needed
  • Launching a statewide “15 to Finish” campaign to change the long standing perception that taking 12 credits per semester is enough to graduate on time

Going In-depth on Higher Ed Reporting

In case you missed it, it was announced yesterday that Indiana is one of 10 states to receive a $1 million grant from Complete College America. As the name suggests, the goal is to improve college completion rates — in Indiana and across the nation.

You can check out the governor’s press release. Seeing it prompted me to recall some of the interesting higher education stories I have had the privilege to write in recent years. I’ll share a few below — most relating in one form or another to the truly important college completion topic.

  • In early 2007, the article "Graduation Evaluation" revealed just how poor timely college completion rates are at many schools
  • The Indiana Commission for Higher Education’s grant proposal focused on redesigning remedial coursework at Ivy Tech (we updated the community college’s tremendous surge in "Growing Gains" in 2009) and supporting student success at regional campuses ("Breaking Down Walls" in March-April 2010 recently earned a national award for education reporting)
  • In addition, this year’s education issue featured a profile of Lumina Foundation President Jamie Merisotis. Read "Working to Educate America"
  • And, the person presenting the $1 million as the leader of Complete College America was none other than Stan Jones, Indiana’s longtime higher ed commissioner and the Indiana Chamber’s 2009 Government Leader of the Year

There is no underestimating the importance of education, no matter the level. It’s all about the young people of today, who will comprise our workforce and our leadership of tomorrow. The Chamber will continue its focus in its policy efforts, as will BizVoice through its reporting and analysis.