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Nationwide community college enrollment numbers continue to decline. But student completion rates in the sector are higher than many people think. Those are the two primary findings in a new report the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) released last week. 

The report is based on data from the U.S. Department of Education and the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. It found that enrollments at two-year colleges are down for the third consecutive year, dropping by 3.5 percent during the year prior to last fall. That decline is largest among older students, who may be returning to the workforce, the report said.

Full-time community college students graduate at a rate of 57 percent within six years, according to the report, either from the institution where they originally enrolled or another college. The Clearinghouse's six-year completion rate for all community college students is 39 percent.