EPI's weekly illustration of education data trends — March 6, 2018

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When do BA Grads Graduate?


Data from the Beginning Postsecondary Student (BPS) 04/09 study from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) gives us insight into how and when students graduate from their postsecondary studies. Our focus in this EPIGraph is on the time to degree for students who earn their bachelor's degree and began at a a four-year public institution. This study followed students up six years after beginning their studies, so data on what happens to students after six years is not applicable in this analysis.

As illustrated below, 71 percent of all students beginning their studies at a four-year public institution graduate in four years or less (on time). One quarter graduate sometime during or at the conclusion of their fifth year, and 4 percent graduate sometime or at the end of their sixth year.

When we disaggregate by race/ethnicity, we notice some differences. Sixty percent of both Black and Hispanic students graduate on time, with 32 and 30 percent, respectively graduating in five years, and 8 and 10 percent in the sixth year.

It is important to remind readers that this only interprets students who earned a BA within six years. It does not include the issue related to students who dropped out and did not complete studies.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2003-04 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study, Second Follow-up (BPS:04/09).