|Goal:||Increase college access, quality, and completion by strengthening higher education and lifelong learning opportunities.|
|Objective:||Increase the number of U.S. students who complete a bachelor's degree program.|
|How progress is measured:||Students completing a bachelor's degree within 6 years from their initial institution: 1998 and 2003 entry cohorts|
|Why is this measure important?||To meet the President’s 2020 goal for increased educational attainment, 8 million additional Americans will need to earn college degrees by 2020. Dramatically boosting four-year college completion rates is essential if Americans are to compete successfully in the years ahead against their peers in a global economy.
Today, more than 1 out of 3 students who enroll in a 4-year college fail to graduate within 6 years. Our nation's institutions for higher education need to do more than enroll students in college; they need to ensure they successfully complete their degrees.
|What do the data tell us at the national level?||The percentage of students graduating with a bachelor's degree within 6 years of entry from the degree-granting institutions where the students started as full-time, first-time students in the United States was higher for the cohort entering in 2003 (57.4 percent) than it was for the cohort entering in 1998 (56.4 percent).|
|What are the limitations of the indicator?||The graduation rate was calculated as the total number of completers within the specified time to degree attainment divided by the estimate of students who entered the institution as first-time, full-time undergraduates seeking a bachelor's or equivalent degree minus any allowable exclusions. This is the measure required for disclosure and reporting purposes under the Student Right-To-Know Act. Allowable exclusions include those students who had died or were totally and permanently disabled; those who had left school to serve in the armed forces; those who had left to serve with a foreign aid service of the federal government such as the Peace Corps; and those who had left to serve on official church missions. The cohort in this indicator consists of those students who enrolled for the first time in a 4-year institution in the entry academic year. Students who transferred to another institution are included in the enrollment of the institution they transferred out of and are not included in the enrollment of the institution they transferred into. In addition, students who transferred to another institution are not counted as completers in either institution, even if they graduated from the institution they transferred into. The number of completers used in the calculation of the graduation rate for each time-to-degree designation is cumulative; for example, the 6-year graduation rate includes all students who graduated in 4 years and 5 years, as well as those who graduated in 6 years.|
|Documentation for the indicator:||Data on bachelor’s degree completion are from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Spring Survey, a mandated universe data collection. The graduation rate was calculated as the number of bachelor’s degree completers in a given year divided by the estimate of students who had entered the institution 6 years prior as first-time, full-time undergraduates seeking a bachelor's or equivalent degree. As mandated by Title IV of the Higher Education Act, IPEDS gathers information from every college, university, and technical and vocational institution that participates in the federal student financial aid programs (more than 6,700 institutions each year). For additional information on IPEDS, see: http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/. For more information on the graduation rate, see: http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2010152rev.|