Study: Most Virginia college students finish what they start

school2The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center today released its report on college completion, which shows Virginia’s college students finishing their degrees at an impressive rate, far above the national average.

This report focuses on six-year completion rates for first-time degree-seeking students.  In most categories, college students from Virginia perform well above the national average. For example, the average completion rate for college students from Virginia at four-year public institutions is 76 percent, compared to a national average of 61 percent. Only students from Iowa and New Hampshire had higher completion rates.

“I’m pleased to see the results from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center,” said Governor Bob McDonnell. “This report highlights the impressive work that our institutions of higher education are doing to assist Virginians in college competition and retention. I commend our colleges and universities on their efforts to increase these completion rates and help the Commonwealth meet the goals of the Top Jobs legislation of an additional 100,000 new degrees.”

“Increasing the number of students who complete their college degrees is a priority of Governor McDonnell and was specifically included in the Top Jobs legislation,” said Secretary of Education Laura Fornash. “This report shows we are headed in the right direction. It’s important to compare well to other states, but we also have to exceed our own high standards and continue to improve, to help grow our economy.”

The report also looks at student behavior at public two-year, and private nonprofit four-year institutions. These groups are further subdivided into additional categories, including: students enrolling exclusively full-time until degree completion; students enrolling exclusively part-time; students with mixed enrollment; students age 24 or younger at first entry into college; and students aged 25 or older at first entry.

“This report is unique in that it looks at real student behavior regarding degree completion,” said SCHEV Director Peter Blake. “While the higher education community should be proud at the performance of these students, we can use this data to further improve student success by Virginians.”

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s “Signature Report on Completing College: A State-Level View of Student Attainment Rates” can be found at

SCHEV is the Commonwealth’s coordinating body for Virginia’s system of higher education. The agency provides policy guidance and budget recommendations to the governor and General Assembly, and is a resource for information on higher education issues.


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