State scores high in college completion: report

(ILLINOIS) Illinois won impressive scores in a report to be published Tuesday on college-completion rates, ranking among only a dozen states where more than 70 percent of students at four-year public colleges and universities graduated during the height of the recession, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

The report, compiled by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, based in Herndon, Virginia, shines a spotlight on graduation rates of students who started college during the Great Recession. The report tracked students who entered colleges and universities in fall 2008, and followed them for six years, until May 31, 2014.

Nationwide, a larger number of students enrolled during the recession than before the recession, but fewer completed their studies, the report concluded.

Illinois counted 73.2 percent of students who enrolled in and graduated from public four-year institutions during the six-year research period, according to the report. The percentage includes those who stayed at the same school and those — 10 percent — who transferred and obtained a degree elsewhere.

The report omitted Indiana in this statistic because it had inadequate information about the Hoosier state, research center spokeswoman Paula Newbaker said.

The report also showed:

– Illinois was one of only five states where at least one in three part-time students at four-year institutions received a credential, compared to a 21 percent national average. Illinois’ percentage stood at 40.61 percent, behind Maryland’s 42.4 percent. The other states with percentages higher than 33 percent were Massachusetts, Michigan and Mississippi.

– Illinois was among 11 states in which at least one in five women who started at two-year public institutions completed a degree at a four-year institution. In Illinois, 20 percent of women did so. In Indiana, the percentage was 9.98.

– Only two states reported at least 20 percent of men who started at a two-year public institution completed their degree at a four-year institution. Illinois’ percentage was 19.48, while Indiana’s percentage was 9.42. The top two states were Kansas with a 22.98 percent rate and Virginia, with a 20.53 percent rate.

– Sixteen states, including Illinois, reported that more than 40 percent of their community-college students completed their degrees. Illinois reported 43.81 percent did so, while Indiana reported that 23 percent of its students in two-year programs completed their degrees.

Dr. James Applegate, executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, said in a statement Monday, “Overall completion rates at Illinois four-year public institutions is 73 percent, which is significantly higher than the national average of 62.85 percent. This good news continues to aid Illinois’ goal to ensure that 60 percent of its residents has a college credential by 2025.”


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