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College graduation rates continue to rise in Indiana

July 31, 2017

GraduationMore Hoosier students are earning degrees and graduating on time, according to the 2017 College Completion Report released Friday by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. Over the past five years, on-time graduation rates have increased by more than 11 percentage points at the state’s public colleges, and the completion gap between minority students and the overall student population has been cut nearly in half.

“We’re encouraged that recent state policy reforms combined with the ongoing efforts of our campuses are having a clear impact in helping more students complete college,” said Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers. “These are stubborn numbers to move, but we must accelerate our rate of improvement to close the achievement gap and meet Indiana’s goal of 60% of Hoosiers completing education beyond high school by 2025.”

Lubbers noted that a marked increase in college completion trends—particularly among low-income students in the state’s 21st Century Scholars program—has occurred since the Indiana General Assembly enacted financial aid reforms aimed at keeping students on track to graduate on time. Expanded student success initiatives across the state’s campuses coupled with a renewed focus on returning adult students is building momentum to meet Indiana’s education attainment and economic development goals.

Key Takeaways from the 2017 College Completion Report

Completion rates are improving across Indiana campuses: On-time graduation rates have improved by about 10 percentage points at Indiana four-year campuses over the past five years while two-year campuses have improved by about 6 percentage points. The five most-improved campuses during that period were IU East, Purdue West Lafayette, Ball State University, the University of Southern Indiana and IU Kokomo.

The completion gap is closing but needs to close faster: The achievement gap for black and Hispanic students has been cut nearly in half, but the rate of improvement must increase to meet Indiana’s goal of closing the gap entirely by 2025. A significant factor in meeting this challenge is the notable difference in first-to-second year persistence rates between minority students and their peers (67% vs. 78%).

More students are on track to graduate on time: Statewide, more Indiana students are taking and completing the necessary number of credits (30 per year) to complete college on time. Minority students and 21st Century Scholars have recorded the largest gains in recent years with the most significant improvement occurring at the state’s community college campuses.