Persistence and Outcomes
Finally, we turn to persistence and outcomes in postsecondary education. One measure of persistence is the retention rate, defined as the percentage of students who enrolled in an institution in the fall and returned to that same institution the following year to continue their studies (see figure CL-7). Some 77 percent of full-time students and 46 percent of part-time students who entered 4-year institutions in 2008 returned the following year to continue their studies (see table A-39-2). Seventy-eight percent of full-time and 48 percent of part-time students who enrolled in public 4-year institutions in 2008 returned the following year; 79 percent of full-time and 44 percent of part-time students did so at private not-for-profit 4-year institutions; and 50 percent of full-time and 43 percent of part-time students did so at private for-profit 4-year institutions. At 2-year institutions, the retention rates for those who entered school in 2008 were the following: 59 percent of full-time and 40 percent of part-time students at public institutions, 59 percent of full-time and 60 percent of part-time students at private not-for-profit institutions, and 69 percent of full-time and 47 percent of students at private for-profit institutions.
Turning to outcomes, the bachelorís degree completion rates of students who began seeking a bachelorís degree at 4-year institutions in fall 2002 and did not transfer to another institution varied by the control of institution. Graduation rates were highest at private not-for-profit institutions, followed by public institutions and private for-profit institutions. For example, the 6-year graduation rate at private not-for-profit institutions was 65 percent, compared with 55 percent at public institutions and 22 percent at private for-profit institutions (see table A-23-1).
At both public and private not-for-profit 4-year institutions, the 6-year graduation rates for both males and females who began seeking a bachelorís degree in fall 2002 varied by the acceptance rate of the institution. For example, at public 4-year institutions with open admissions policies, 27 percent of males and 34 percent of females completed a bachelorís degree or its equivalent within 6 years (see table A-23-2). At public 4-year institutions where the acceptance rate was less than 25 percent of applicants, however, the 6-year graduation rate for males was 73 percent and for females, 72 percent.
At 2-year institutions, about 27 percent of first-time, full-time students who enrolled in fall 2005 completed a certificate or associateís degree within 150 percent of the normal time required to complete such a degree (see table A-23-3). For the cohort who enrolled in 1999, the completion rate was 29 percent. The certificate or associateís degree completion rate of students who enrolled in fall 2005 at 2-year institutions varied by institution control. Twenty-one percent of students graduated within 150 percent of the normal time at public 2-year institutions, 48 percent did so at private not-for-profit institutions, and 58 percent did so at private for-profit public institutions.
This Closer Look provides a snapshot on what postsecondary education looks like today, particularly the differences in enrollment, resource use, student financing and outcomes by institution level and control. It is projected that by 2020, there will be nearly 20 million students enrolled in undergraduate institutions (see table A-8-1). The dynamic nature of this sector suggests that these factors may look quite different for those 20 million students.