National Student Clearinghouse Research Center Releases Report by Race and Ethnicity Showing Large Gaps in College Completion Rates

Work Needed to Improve Minority Students’ Postsecondary Outcomes

HERNDON, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#highered–The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center today released a new
report, Completing
College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates by Race and
Ethnicity – Fall 2010 Cohort
. This report is the first use by the
Research Center of a new nationally representative sample of students,
enabling the national results released in December, 2016 to be
disaggregated by race and ethnicity. These results will be updated

Nationally, 54.8 percent of students who started in any type of college
or university in fall 2010 completed a degree or certificate within six
years. When examined by race and ethnicity, Asian and white students had
a much higher completion rate (63.2 percent and 62.0 percent,
respectively) than Hispanic and black students (45.8 percent and 38.0
percent, respectively). These rates include students who graduated after
a transfer and also count both full-time and part-time students,
attending both two-year and four-year institutions.

“These data show that even with recent institutional improvements,
counting students who transfer does not narrow the graduation rate
gaps,” said Doug Shapiro, Executive Research Director, National Student
Clearinghouse. “This means that there is much work to be done to improve
the postsecondary outcomes of underrepresented minority students,
regardless of whether they are native to the institution, transferring
in, or transferring out.”

Key Findings include:

  • Among students who started in four-year public institutions, black
    students had the lowest six-year completion rate (45.9 percent). The
    completion rate of Hispanic students was almost 10 percentage points
    higher than that of black students (55.0 percent). Over two-thirds of
    white and Asian students completed a degree within the same period
    (67.2 percent and 71.7 percent, respectively). Nationally, 62.4
    percent of students finished a degree or certificate within six years.
  • Among students who started in four-year public institutions, black men
    had the lowest completion rate (40.0 percent) and the highest stop-out
    rate (41.1 percent). Asian women had the highest completion rate (75.7
    percent) and the lowest stop-out rate (11.2 percent).
  • The overall completion rate for students who started in two-year
    public institutions was higher for white and Asian students (45.1
    percent and 43.8 percent, respectively) than Hispanic and black
    students (33 percent and 25.8 percent, respectively). Nationally, the
    rate was 39.2 percent, as the Research Center reported in December
  • The completion rate at four-year institutions for students who started
    at a community college (with or without receiving an associate’s
    degree first) was dramatically different for students of different
    racial and ethnic groups. While almost one in four Asian students and
    one in five white students had completed this transfer pathway by the
    end of the six-year study period, just one in 10 Hispanic students and
    about one in 12 black students did.
  • The completion gaps between racial groups tend to shrink as students
    grow older. Among traditional-age students, there was a 24-percentage
    point gap in the completion rates of black and white students (42.7
    percent and 66.8 percent, respectively) and 17.5-percentage points gap
    between Hispanic and white students (49.3 percent and 66.8 percent,
    respectively). Among adult learners (those who started college at 25
    or older), however, the gap was 12.3 percentage points (42.0 percent
    and 29.7 percent, respectively) between black and white students and
    just 9.1 percentage points between Hispanic and white students (42.0
    percent and 32.9 percent, respectively).

This new report is a supplement to the
national report
, released in December 2016, which provides six-year
completion rates disaggregated by race and ethnicity for students who
began postsecondary education in fall 2010. The fall 2010 cohort was
also the focus of a
state-level report
, released in March 2017. Unlike the previous
reports, which relied on the full national student population from the
National Student Clearinghouse data, this supplement is limited to a
representative sample of schools selected specifically for race and
ethnicity analyses. The Research Center worked with the National Opinion
Research Center at the University of Chicago to create the sample.

This report was supported by a grant from the Lumina Foundation, which
is an Indianapolis-based private foundation, committed to enrolling and
graduating more students from college, especially low-income students,
students of color, first-generation students and adult learners.
Lumina’s goal is to increase the percentage of Americans who hold
high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025.

About the National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center is the research arm
of the National Student Clearinghouse. The Research Center collaborates
with higher education institutions, states, school districts, high
schools, and educational organizations as part of a national effort to
better inform education leaders and policymakers. Through accurate
longitudinal data outcomes reporting, the Research Center enables better
educational policy decisions leading to improved student outcomes. To
learn more about the Clearinghouse Research Center, visit


National Student Clearinghouse
Todd Sedmak, 703-733-4122