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Overall College Persistence Rate Improves for Third Straight Year, According to New Clearinghouse Persistence-Retention Snapshot Report

Overall College Persistence Rate Improves for Third Straight Year, According to New Clearinghouse Persistence-Retention Snapshot Report

by NSC Blog | May 5, 2016 | Research Services, Snapshot Reports |

The National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™ released today the Postsecondary Persistence-Retention Snapshot Report showing that of all students who started college in fall 2014, 72.1 percent persisted at any U.S. institution in fall 2015, while 60.6 percent were retained at their starting institution. The report provides downloadable statistics for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“The recession had lingering effects on postsecondary success, with persistence and retention rates reaching a low point for the fall 2010 and fall 2011 entering cohorts,” said Dr. Doug Shapiro, Executive Research Director of the Research Center. “However, after three consecutive years of improvement, overall persistence and retention rates have now surpassed that of students who entered college in fall 2009, suggesting that some of the strain placed on students and colleges during the recession has been lessened.”

Persistence rates remained down in fall 2010 and fall 2011, but have been steadily improving since then. The persistence rate is the percentage of students who return to college at any institution for their second year, while the retention rate is the percentage of students who return to the same institution.

Per the downloadable data tables, the following five states have seen the greatest improvements in persistence rates from the Fall 2011 entering cohort to the Fall 2014 entering cohort: Kentucky, Maryland, Texas, Nebraska and Georgia.

 Snapshot22 - Figure 1

Students in the 20 to 24 Age Group Make Largest Persistence Gains

Students in the 20 to 24 age group at college entry (those who delayed entering college by a few years) have seen the largest rebound in persistence rates. Persistence rates for this age group declined 1.5 percentage points from fall 2009 to fall 2011 (the largest decline of any age group), and then increased 4.5 points from fall 2011 to fall 2014.

This could indicate that six-year completion rates will follow a similar trend for the delayed entry students. As found in the November 2015 Research Center report, Completing College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates – Fall 2009 Cohort, completion rates for this age group fell 4.7 percentage points from the fall 2008 cohort to the fall 2009 cohort (the largest decline of any age group).

 Snapshot22 - Figure 2

“The recession had lingering effects on postsecondary success, with persistence and retention rates reaching a low point for the fall 2010 and fall 2011 entering cohorts. However, after three consecutive years of improvement, overall persistence and retention rates have now surpassed that of students who entered college in fall 2009, suggesting that some of the strain placed on students and colleges during the recession has been lessened.”

Dr. Doug Shapiro
Executive Research Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center

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