Blog Post | April 14, 2010

Sharp Decline in Graduation Rates at For-Profit Four-Year Colleges

A recently released report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) presents the most up-to-date data from the U.S. Department of Education on student financial aid, graduation rates, enrollment, and finances at postsecondary institutions.

We at the Project on Student Debt will continue to analyze these data in detail in the coming months, but one fact from the NCES report jumped out at me – graduation rates for first-time full-time students at for-profit four-year schools fell by 35% while the graduation rates at other four-year schools stayed level.1 Only 22% of bachelor’s or equivalent degree-seekers who entered for-profit four-year schools in 2002 obtained their degree within 6 years (150% of normal time), compared to 34% of bachelor’s degree seekers entering for-profit four-year schools in 2000. The for-profit school graduation rate was already dramatically lower than the public and private non-profit graduation rates, but now it is less than half the rate at either of the other types of four-year colleges. See the table below for detailed figures:

CCC Graph

1. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Graduation Rates component, Spring 2009. Tables 6 and 7 in “Enrollment in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2008; Graduation Rates, 2002 and 2005 Cohorts; and Financial Statistics, Fiscal Year 2008.” Note that these graduation rates do not include transfers-out. This table has been updated to reflect NCES revisions to Table 7. Diane Cheng Research Associate