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A new report from the Institute of Education Sciences compares background, educational characteristics, plans, enrollments and completion patterns of first-generation college students to those of their peers who have at least one parent that has earned at least a bachelor's degree.

The report found that about 20 percent of first-generation college students obtained a four-year degree 10 years after their sophomore year of high school, compared to 42 percent of continuing-generation students.

The study also confirmed some long-held assumptions about first-generation students, including that they come from lower-earning households compared to continuing-generation students. For instance, 27 percent of first-generation students come from households making $20,000 or less, compared to 6 percent of continuing-generation students.

The report also found that 54 percent of first-time students left college without a degree because they couldn't afford to continue, compared to 45 percent of continuing-generation students.