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ERIC Number: ED478814
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003-May
Pages: 55
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
College Completion: Additional Efforts Could Help Education with Its Completion Goals. Report to Congressional Requesters.
Ashby, Cornelia M.
Because of concerns that not enough students who start college are completing a bachelor's degree, and in response to a Congressional request, the General Accounting Office (GAO) examined the extent to which students who enroll in a 4-year college complete a bachelor's degree and the factors that affect completion. The study also investigated what states and 4-year colleges and universities are doing to foster bachelor's degree completion and what the U.S. Department of Education is doing to foster degree completion. Data were drawn from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Department of Education's Beginning Postsecondary Students survey and a survey conducted by the GAO of state higher education executive officer agencies from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Interviews were also conducted with state officials and administrators at 11 public colleges and universities. Findings show that more than half of students who enrolled in a 4-year college completed a bachelor's degree within 6 years. Students were less likely to complete the degree if neither parent had a degree, if they were black, if they worked 20 or more hours per week, or if they transferred to another college. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds were no less likely to complete the degree, but they were less likely to enroll in the first place. States are beginning to hold colleges accountable for retaining and graduating their students, and the Department of Education has been discussing this with the higher education community. States are publishing retention and graduation rates for their colleges, and the Department of Education believes that providing such information can help students make informed decisions. In its Strategic Plan, the Department of Education has identified goals to reduce gaps in college completion and increase overall completion. The GAO recommends that the Secretary of Education consider multiple measures that would help account for other goals of higher education and differences among colleges and then take steps to identify and disseminate information about promising practices in the areas of retention and graduation. Five appendixes provide supplemental data and comments from the Department of Education. (SLD)
U.S. General Accounting Office, 441 G. Street NW, Room LM, Washington, DC 20548 (first copy free; each additional copy, $2). Tel: 202-512-6000; Fax: 202-512-2537; Web site:
Publication Type: Legal/Legislative/Regulatory Materials; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: General Accounting Office, Washington, DC.