Information Brief 2013-42

Year 6 College Cumulative GPA by ACT Composite Score and Economic Status

Among Students Enrolled in a Four-Year Postsecondary Institution

Students’ Chances of Achieving a 3.00 or Higher Year 6 College Cumulative GPA by ACT Composite Score and Family Income Range

ACT ScoreHigher-income studentsLower-income students
1013%11%
1116%13%
1219%15%
1322%18%
1426%22%
1530%26%
1634%30%
1739%35%
1844%40%
1950%45%
2055%51%
2160%56%
2265%61%
2369%66%
2474%71%
2577%75%
2681%79%
2784%82%
2887%85%
2989%88%
3091%90%
3192%92%
3294%93%
3395%95%
3496%96%
3597%96%
3697%97%

Note: Students with a family income of less than $30,000 per year are defined as lower-income students. Students with a family income of more than $60,000 per year are defined as higher-income students. Results based on data from nearly 69,000 ACT-tested students who enrolled in a four-year postsecondary institution as new students in fall 2000 through 2003 and were still enrolled six years later or had completed a bachelor’s degree prior to the end of year 6. Nearly 60 institutions were represented. For a more detailed description of the study, see ACT Research Report 2013-5.

A recent ACT study1 that included data from nearly 60 four-year postsecondary institutions found that the typical chances of achieving a 3.00 or higher year 6 cumulative grade point average (GPA) was 10 percentage points higher for higher-income students than for lower-income students (66% versus 56%, respectively).

However, when students’ academic achievement levels (as measured by Composite score on the ACT® college readiness assessment) were taken into account, smaller differences in students’ chances between higher- and lower-income students were seen, especially among students with higher ACT Composite scores. For example, for students with an ACT Composite score of 25, higher-income students had a 77% chance of achieving a 3.00 or higher year 6 cumulative GPA, compared to a 75% chance for lower-income students.

For students with ACT Composite scores of 29 or above, chances of achieving a 3.00 or higher year 6 cumulative GPA for lower-income students were within 1 percentage point of those for higher-income students.


1 Justine Radunzel and Julie Noble, Differential Effects on Student Demographic Groups of Using ACT College Readiness Assessment Composite Score, ACT Benchmarks, and High School Grade Point Average for Predicting Long-Term College Success through Degree Completion, ACT Research Report 2013-5 (Iowa City, IA: ACT, Inc., 2013).


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