Information Brief 2012-19

Bachelor’s Degree Completion Rates

among ACT-tested high school graduates who immediately enrolled in a four-year institution

For seven years, we tracked the progress of a group of ACT-tested 2003 high school graduates who enrolled in a four-year college in fall 2003. This brief focuses on the bachelor’s degree completion rates of these students four, five, six, and seven years after enrolling.

As shown below, the bachelor’s degree completion rate increased from 35% to 65% between years 4 and 7. The increase in the bachelor’s degree completion rate between years 4 and 5 was 3 to 7 times larger than those between later years. By the end of year 7, 35% of the students had not yet completed a bachelor’s degree.

Bachelor’s Degree Completion Rates, Years 4 through 7

YearPercent
435
555
662
765

Note: Based on National Student Clearinghouse data for a stratified random sample of 18,860 ACT-tested 2003 high school graduates who enrolled in a four-year college in fall 2003. The sample was weighted to be representative of the entire 2003 ACT-tested graduating class who immediately enrolled in college. For students enrolled in multiple institutions in fall 2003, initial institution type was based on the institution from which the student ultimately earned the highest degree by the end of the seven-year study and/or in which the student had enrolled for the greatest number of fall terms during the study. In the sample, less than 1 percent of the students were initially enrolled in more than one institution.

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