Graduating on Time is the Best Strategy to Make College More Affordable

Graduating on Time is the Best Strategy to Make College More Affordable
Beth Dumbauld

According to a report by Complete College America, only 19% of full-time students end up earning their bachelor's degree on time at most public universities in the United States. Even at flagship public universities school within each state, only 36% of students graduate in four years. At community colleges, only 5% of full-time students graduate in two years.

"Hands down, our best strategy to make college more affordable and a sure way to boost graduation rates overall is to ensure that many more students graduate on time."

On Time Graduation Rates by Degree Type

Graduating "on time" means graduating from a 4-year college in four years or a 2-year college in two years. But what do the statistics say about students who actually achieve these graduation rates? According to data, on time graduation rates are the following:

  • 1- TO 2-YEAR CERTIFICATE: 15.9% On Time
  • 4-YEAR BACHELOR’S Degree (NON-FLAGSHIP): 19% On Time
  • 4-YEAR BACHELOR’S (FLAGSHIP/VERY HIGH RESEARCH): 36% On Time
  • 2-YEAR ASSOCIATE: 5% On Time

Not Graduating on Time Will Cost You Big Money

According to Complete College America, you'll be paying an extra $15,933 more for every extra year at a public two-year college and $22,826 for every extra year at a public four-year college. In other words, 4 years of college is significantly less expensive than five or six. Likewise, earning your bachelor's degree in 3 years will cost you significantly less than four years. This is why a growing number of students are using online classes and enrolling in competency-based degree programs in order to reduce the number of years  it takes to earn their degree (in 2 to 3 years versus 4) and/or ensure that they graduate time.

The group emphasizes, "Hands down, our best strategy to make college more affordable and a sure way to boost graduation rates overall is to ensure that many more students graduate on time."

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