Quick Takes

Kentucky near top of increases in college completion rate this year

By: - December 14, 2022 4:25 pm

Source: National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.

Kentucky was one of just five states to achieve more than a 1% increase in its college completion rate in 2022, according to a national report.

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center tracks the rate at which students entering colleges and universities have earned a degree or certificate six years later.

Nationally, progress stalled in 2022, the report says. 

By contrast, Kentucky improved over the previous year by 1.1 percentage points. Of Kentuckians who began college in 2016, 61.4% completed a degree or certificate by June 2022.

Nationally, 62.3 percent of the 2016 cohort had completed college by 2022, an improvement of 0.1 percentage point over the previous year. This flatline follows a gain of 1.2 percentage points in the preceding year (2014-2015), says the report.

Rhode Island had the greatest improvement in 2022, a gain of 2.1 percentage points for a six-year completion rate of 76.5 percent. Other states in the top five most-improved were Utah, Maryland and Louisiana.

Among the nation’s community colleges, Kentucky had the second-highest improvement in completion rates, up 3 percentage points from the previous year. 

We are doing this — we are making this progress – not by getting smaller and more selective but by growing our enrollment to meet the needs of our state as part of our mission to Advance Kentucky.

– Eli Capilouto, University of Kentucky president

The University of Kentucky reports its six-year graduation rate is nearly 69%, the highest ever and more than 10 percentage points higher than a decade ago. UK’s four-year-and-five-year graduation rates are also at record highs; the four-year graduation rate — 55% — is 23 percentage points higher than it was in 2010, according to UK.

UK President Eli Capilouto told the Board of Trustees on Tuesday: “That trajectory of progress is the product of tireless work and effort by hundreds and hundreds of people across our campus — from faculty, whose scholarship and teaching talent attracts and inspires students to our staff who support our students through advising, targeted interventions and support for an increasingly deep and sophisticated range of resources.

“We are doing this— we are making this progress — not by getting smaller and more selective but by growing our enrollment to meet the needs of our state as part of our mission to Advance Kentucky,” said Capilouto.

In a statement, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education President, Aaron Thompson said: “These data show that Kentucky is leading the pack in increasing college completion rates, and that is a testament to our campuses’ and state leaders’ dedication to ensuring every Kentuckian has access to the resources they need to succeed—regardless of income or background.

“Here at CPE, we’ve doubled down on our investment in helping our institutions meet students’ needs — whether they be academic, social, emotional or even basic needs like food and housing — so they have the support they need to make it to graduation.”

Gender gap widens

Nationally, the gender gap continued to grow to the highest since 2008. The fall 2016 national six-year completion rate for men was 58.5 percent and 65.6 percent for women – a gap of 7.1 percentage points and is driven primarily by the gaps seen at public four-year institutions, says the report.

Women are completing higher education at a higher rate than men. This shows the completion rate gap by gender, 2008-2016. Source: National Student Clearinghouse Research Center


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