What Percentage of College Students Don't Finish College?

Learn about college dropout rates and what percentage of college students don't finish college. Find out why college completion rates are so low and what can be done to improve them.

What Percentage of College Students Don't Finish College?

It's no secret that college completion rates are low. According to recent studies, only about 6 out of 10 students who start college will have a degree after six years. This means that many students will be left with student debt and no degree to show for it, making them more likely to default on their loans. Research suggests that for schools with graduation rates between 40% and 70%, the percentage of college dropouts returning after a quarter is 42%.

The Information Center can provide a comparison of high school graduation records and university records to determine who enrolled in college, who persisted, and who ended up earning degrees - for a fee. Unfortunately, up to 25% of students who take standardized college readiness tests are directed to university remedial courses. Even though colleges and universities have improved their overall graduation rates, not all students are benefiting. A recent study found that more than two-thirds of California community college students drop out of college.

Even more concerning is that in one-third of the colleges and universities in the study, the

graduation rate

for black students either stayed the same or decreased. Similarly, 53% of students who dropped out of schools with

college graduation

rates below 40% reenroll after one year. The most recent statistics for college students show five more universities with a relatively low college dropout rate. This is likely due to a decrease in the number of high school graduates across the country, a strong job market, and low unemployment.

The National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) reports that the percentage of college dropouts returning to school in the next five years is quite low - only 13%. This means that most students who drop out of college won't return to school within five years.

Vanessa Shelly
Vanessa Shelly

My name is Vanessa and I am a college student. I am majoring in communications and I love to write. I love to play the trumpet. Infuriatingly humble coffee guru.

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