Among students who started at a community college or four-year institution in 2010, 60.4 percent graduated by 2018, according to new data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, which tracks all but a small percentage of college students. That national eight-year completion rate is 5.6 percentage points higher than the six-year rate of 54.8 percent for the same group of students.
Today's college students are taking longer to graduate, the center said, as many transfer, leave college or switch to part-time status to work or care for family members. Yet many get to graduation over a longer period of time.
"This report shows that to be particularly true for minority and underrepresented students, who we observe narrowing the gaps in completion rates over time, compared to white students," Doug Shapiro, the center's executive director, said in a written statement.
For example, the eight-year completion rate for Hispanic students who started at four-year institutions was 63.3 percent, which was 8.3 percentage points higher than that group's six-year rate of 55 percent.
The center also found similar increases for community college students compared to their peers who started at four-year institutions. The completion rate for students who started at four-year public institutions increased by 6.4 percentage points, to 68.8 percent from 62.4 percent. The rate for community college starters -- to earn either an associate or bachelor’s degree -- increased by 6.0 points, to 45.3 percent from 39.3 percent.