State reports increase in public college completion rates

College completion rates are on the rise at public universities in Indiana and so is the percentage of students who are graduating on time, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education announced Thursday.

According to the commission's newly released College Completion Report, 40.6 percent of students who enroll in a public college in Indiana graduate on time. That rate rose 13 percentage points from 2013 to 2018, the report said.

On-time graduation included students who receive their bachelor’s degree within four years and an associate degree within two years.

Meanwhile, extended-time graduation rates at public colleges rose to 61.8 percent, an increase of 4.8 percentage points over five years. Extended rates apply to students who graduate within six years.

The campuses that experienced the most improvement in on-time graduation rates from 2013-2018 were Indiana University East, University of Southern Indiana, IUPUI, Indiana University Kokomo and Ball State University.

The campuses with the overall highest on-time completion rates were Indiana University at Bloomington, Purdue University in West Lafayette and Ball State.

Researchers said much of the improvement can be attributed to state financial aid reform enacted by Indiana lawmakers six years ago that requires students in the 21st Century Scholars scholarship program to complete at least 30 credit hours each calendar year.

On-time graduation rates in the program have risen 14.1 percentage points over the past five years.

“Most of the new jobs being created now and in the future require a credential beyond a high school diploma,” Indiana Higher Education Commissioner Teresa Lubbers said in written remarks. “The data in this report serve as an important gauge for how Indiana’s colleges and universities are preparing students, and how vital the support of the Indiana General Assembly is to the state’s continued success in higher education.”

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