Student Migration and Academic Achievement

Distance to College

Of those ACT-tested high school graduates who enrolled in college, the median distance between home and college was 51 miles.

Median Distance to College by ACT Composite Score, 2011

Line graph showing median distance to college by ACT Composite score range

Graph reads: Among ACT-tested college students with an ACT Composite score between 33 and 36, the median distance between home and college was 172 miles.

ACT Composite Score RangeDistance (in Miles)
1–1518
16–1927
20–2345
24–2778
28–32112
33–36172

National = 51 miles

The distance between a student’s home and college increased exponentially with ACT Composite score.

  • For students with a score of 15 or lower, the median distance to college was less than 20 miles.
  • For students with a score between 33 and 36, the median distance to college was just over 170 miles.


Median Distance to College by State Category, 2011

Bar chart showing median distance to college by state category

Graph reads: Among ACT-tested college students from “SAT” states, the median distance between home and college was 77 miles.

State CategoryDistance (in Miles)
ACT+41
ACT44
ACT/SAT33
SAT77
SAT+87
National51

The distance between an ACT-tested student’s home and college also differed considerably by the ACT and SAT participation rates in the state.

  • A typical ACT-tested student from an “SAT” or “SAT+” state traveled farther to attend college than a student from an “ACT” or “ACT+” state.
  • The median distance to college for ACT-tested students from “SAT+” states was 87 miles. This is more than twice the median distance to college traveled by students from “ACT+” states.