DataPoints: Promising completion rates

The average completion rate* for students who first enrolled in public community colleges in fall 2016 rose to a record high of 33.7% – up from 30.1% the prior year – based on new data from the U.S. Education Department. The rate is 46.6% when students who transferred prior to earning a credential (complete or transfer rate) are added.

Community colleges have embraced the completion agenda, and these data show a steady increase in completion and complete or transfer rates for cohorts of students who began in 2010 through 2016 (the most recent year data are available). The traditional completion rate reported here only includes students who had no prior postsecondary enrollment and began full-time, which is not a complete picture of community college enrollments. The American Association of Community College’s Voluntary Framework of Accountability (VFA) provides a more comprehensive and nuanced picture of all community college students’ progress and outcomes.

Note: The completion rate is the percent of first-time, full-time students who completed credential within 150% of normal time. The complete or transfer rate is the percent of first-time, full-time students who completed credential within 150% of normal time or transferred within three years.

*Only includes non-bachelor’s of arts degree (BA) granting community colleges. BA-granting community colleges report on a six-year cohort, not a three-year one.

For more information, contact Kent Phillippe, associate vice president for research and student success at the American Association of Community Colleges, at 202-416-4505 or kphillippe@aacc.nche.edu

About the Author

Kent Phillippe
is associate vice president for research and student success at the American Association of Community Colleges.