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Home » About the Clearinghouse » Media Center » National Six-Year and Eight-Year College Completion Rates Reach New Highs, 59.7% and 61.8%, Respectively

Completion Rates Increased Across All Types of Institutions

HERNDON, VA—(Dec. 10, 2019)–The overall national six-year completion rate reached 59.7% for the fall 2013 entering cohort, and the eight-year completion rate increased to 61.8% for the 2011 entering cohort, according to the Completing College 2019 National Report, a newly released report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. These rates are new highs since the Research Center started tracking these data with the 2006 cohort.

The completion rates of the more than 2.3 million students who entered postsecondary education for the first time in the fall of 2013 increased across all types of starting institutions. Public four-year; public two-year; and private, nonprofit four-year starters, also have reached their highest levels—67%, 41%, and 77%, respectively. The completion rate of private, for-profit, four-year starters jumped 5.1 percentage points to 42.4%, on a 24% smaller cohort size, and surpassed the public, two-year starters’ completion rate for the first time since the 2007 cohort.

“The college completion rate has been on a steady rise since the 2009 cohort year as the post-recession cohorts of first-time beginning undergraduates have trended younger and more full-time,” said Doug Shapiro, Executive Director, National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “In addition, the results suggest that institutional efforts to improve retention, progression and success from the start of each student’s college career are increasingly effective.”

Other Report Highlights include:

  • The national college completion rate continues to rise, but more slowly in recent years.
  • First-time entering college students are becoming increasingly traditional in demographics and education pathways.
  • An additional five percent of the 2011 entering student cohort completed during their seventh and eighth years.
  • More progress made among older students (age 20 and over) generally, and Hispanics in particular.
  • For the first time, the report includes analysis of majors at graduation, showing racial/ethnic and gender disparities.

Following this national report, state-by-state completion rates for the 2013 cohort will be available in the spring of 2020.

The national completion rate counts all students who enter postsecondary education for the first time each year, enrolling full-time or part-time at two-year or four-year institutions, and completing at any U.S. degree-granting institution. Clearinghouse data track enrollments nationally and are not limited by institutional and state boundaries. The Clearinghouse currently collects data from more than 3,600 postsecondary institutions, which represent 97% of the nation’s postsecondary enrollments in degree-granting institutions, as of 2018.

About the National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center is the research arm of the National Student Clearinghouse. The Research Center collaborates with higher education institutions, states, school districts, high schools, and educational organizations as part of a national effort to better inform education leaders and policymakers. Through accurate longitudinal data outcomes reporting, the Research Center enables better educational policy decisions leading to improved student outcomes. To learn more, visit