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CU-Boulder undergraduate graduation & freshman retention highlights
Fall 2013

Brief summary

  • The overall 6-year graduation rate was 70% for full-time freshmen entering in 2007, the most recent class to have had a full 6 years to graduate. This is the highest rate ever since tracking began in 1980, following 3 consecutive years at 68%, the previous high.
  • The 6-year graduation rate for Colorado residents also set a new high (73%), while the non-resident rate equaled the highest ever mark of 65% set by classes entering in 1996 and 1997.
  • The 4-year graduation rate for the class entering in 2009 was 47%, a new record for the third consecutive year. Residents also set a new high at 49%, while non-residents equaled last year’s record of 44%. The rate for students of color was the second highest ever at 38%, but one percentage point below last year.
  • 61% of the 4,892 FY 2013 bachelor’s recipients who entered CU-Boulder as freshmen took 4 years or fewer to graduate. The percentage taking 4 years or fewer has increased for four consecutive years, from 55% of FY 2009 graduates. The median time to degree for the FY2013 degree cohort was 3.7 years, equivalent to the 4th spring after fall entry.
  • The one-year retention rate for freshmen entering in 2012 was 85%, equaling the highest since 1990; it’s been between 82-85% each year since.

Links within the following pages show detail, including tables and graphic plots

Fall 2013 Highlights Detail

Overall

  • The overall 6-year graduation rate was 70% for full-time freshmen entering in 2007, the most recent class to have had a full 6 years to graduate. This is the highest rate ever since tracking began in 1980, following 3 consecutive years at 68%, the previous high. The 6-year graduation rate is the standard used in federal and comparative reporting.
    • Freshmen who entered CU-Boulder as Colorado residents in the class entering in 2007 had a 6-year graduation rate of 73%, an all-time high. The graduation rate for residents has been 71 or 72% for the prior 6 consecutive entering classes.
    • The non-resident graduation rate was 65%, equaling the all-time high set by the entering classes of 1996 and 1997. The rate has been between 61% and 65% for each entering class since 1986. Non-residents are further from home and pay substantially higher tuition than residents; both factors contribute to their lower graduation rate.
  • The 4-year graduation rate was 47% for the freshman class entering in 2009, a new high for the third consecutive year. The 49% rate for residents was also the highest ever, while the 44% rate for non-residents equaled the highest ever mark set last year. Women (54%) set new highs as well, while men and students of color were each one percentage point below the all-time highs both groups set last year.
  • The one-year retention rate for the freshman class entering in fall 2012 was 85%, equaling the highest since 1990. It has been between 82-85% every year since.
    • The resident retention rate, which has held fairly steady for years, was 86%, the same as for last year’s cohort. It has been between 85-87% since 1995. The non-resident rate was 82%, the highest since 2005; it has fluctuated slightly more than the resident rate, but has been between 79% and 83% for all but one year since 1988.
  • We are now able to track students who leave CU-Boulder for other institutions through the National Student Clearinghouse, and to calculate an “enhanced graduation rate” – students in an entering freshman cohort who graduate either from CU-Boulder or from another two- or four-year institution. For the entering class of 2006, the latest available at the time we last analyzed data from the Clearinghouse, 99% were able to be matched by the Clearinghouse. Of these, 68% graduated from CU-Boulder within 6 years, 9% from another 4-year institution, and 1% from a 2-year institution, making the enhanced graduation rate 78%. An additional 7% were still enrolled either at CU-Boulder or other institutions, meaning that only 15% of the original entry cohort had not either graduated or were still working on degrees.

Gender

  • Six-year graduation rates for women are consistently higher than those for men, generally by 3-6 percentage points. This has been true for all classes entering since 1986, although rates for men and women were about equal before that. The 5-point gap for the entering class of 2007 was a point lower than the prior year’s. Women also graduate faster--their four-year graduation rate consistently exceeds men's by 10-15 percentage points. The four-year graduation rate for women who entered in 2009 was 54%, setting a new all-time high for the fourth consecutive year. The four-year rate of 39% for men was one point below the prior year’s class, which was the all-time high.

Students of color

  • Graduation rates for students of color, while consistently lower than those for whites and showing some year-to-year fluctuations, have been generally increasing in recent years for Asian Americans, Native Americans, and African Americans; rates for Hispanic/Chicanos showed sharp increases up to around 1999 but have flattened out since. The graduation rate for students of color from the entering class of 2007 equaled the all-time high, at 64%. The gap between students of color and white students, 7 percentage points, was in the usual range historically.
  • The 6-year graduation rate for Asian-Americans was 71%, equaling the all-time high set by 2004’s class.
  • The 6-year graduation rate for African-Americans was 55%, 9 percentage points below last year’s record equaling level but still the 4th highest ever.
  • For Hispanic/Latino students, the 6-year graduation rate of 56%, 5 percentage points below last year’s all-time high.
  • The 1-year retention rate for students of color in the class entering in 2012 was 83%, one percentage point higher than the prior year’s, and only 1 point off the class of 2009’s all-time high. The rate for Asian Americans was 88%, equaling the record high. The retention rate for African-Americans was 2 points higher than last year’s, while Hispanic/Latinos dropped 4 percentage points. Generally over time the retention rate for students of color has been 1 to 3 percentage points below white students; this year the gap was 2 percentage points.

Pell Grant recipients and first-generation college students

  • Graduation rates for Pell Grant recipients (who have relatively low financial resources) and first-generation college students are generally lower than the overall rate, by several percentage points. This is true for both residents and non-residents. All these factors – being a Colorado resident, a Pell recipient, and a first-generation student – are positively correlated to each other, so the independent relationships of each factor to graduation rate can be hard to interpret from simply comparing graduation rates for the various categories. Some years ago, in an attempt to untangle these factors, we did a logistic regression analysis, looking at the relationship between graduation rate and each factor, while controlling for each of the others (and also controlling for predicted GPA). The results indicated that being a non-resident, a Pell recipient, and a first-generation college student each is related to a lower graduation rate, by anywhere from 5 to 10 percentage points.
  • For the entering class of 2007, residents who received Pell grants in their first year had a 68% grad rate, students who receive subsidized Stafford loans 67%, while those who received neither had a 75% graduation rate. For non-residents, the comparable numbers were 46%, 57%, and 68%.
  • For first-generation resident students in the entering class of 2007, the graduation rate was 63%, compared to 75% for non-first-generation residents. For non-residents, the comparable percentages were 52% and 67%.

Residence Hall

  • The 6-year graduation rate for students living in Williams Villiage was 63%, compared to 73% for students living in the central part of campus.
  • The 1-year retenion rate for students living in Williams Village in the 2012 cohort was 78%, compared to 88% for students living in the central part of campus.
  • 6% of students in the 2007 cohort chose not live in the residence halls. Their 6-year graduation rate was 63%.
  • Buckingham Hall had the highest 6-year graduation rate - 79%. College Inn had the lowest at 58%.
  • Click here for further explanation and click here for an Excel file that contains the data.

Time to degree

  • Graduation rates are typically reported using 4-year, 5-year and 6-year rates. The rates represent the percentage of students who entered in a given fall (including prior summer entry) as new full-time freshmen and who graduated in four, five or six years. Graduation rates are used for comparisons among institutions, among groups of students (e.g., resident versus non-resident or by ethnicity), and for comparisons over time. For example, compared to Colorado residents, non-residents (at entry) have lower overall graduation rates (from 5-9 percentage points lower on the 6-year rate).
  • Graduation rates, however, do not answer the question of how long it takes, on average, for students to graduate. At CU-Boulder, graduation in four years is still the norm. If you look at a cohort of bachelor’s degree recipients for a given fiscal year who originally entered as first-time, full-time summer/fall freshmen, more than half of them graduated in four years or less. This percentage climbed steadily from 52% for FY 2002 bachelor’s recipients to 58% for 2007, fell back to 56-55% for 2008 and 2009, and now has climbed for 4 straight years, to 61% for 2013. The average over the last 12 years has been 57%. It has been 59% for students who entered as non-residents, 56% for residents; 64% for females, 49% for males.
  • The median time to degree for bachelor’s recipients in 2013 was 3.7 years, the same as in 2011 and 2012, which equates to the 4th spring after fall entry. This follows a median of 4.0 years for the previous 9 consecutive years, from 2002-10, which equates to the 4th summer after fall entry. It was 3.7 years for females – equivalent to the 4th spring – and 4.0 years for males. It was slightly longer for students who changed colleges, but only 4.0 years, or the summer of the 4th year. Students who changed majors took a median 4.0 years, while those who began with undeclared majors took a median of 3.7 years.
  • Mean time to degree is slightly longer than the median, because while there is a real lower limit – very few can graduate in, say, 3 years or less – there’s very little upper limit, and a few students might take 6 years, 7 years, or even longer, and we follow them for as long as it takes. Even so, the mean time to degree from 2002 through 2013 has been 4.3 years – fall of the 5th year.

Technical Notes

For first-time full-time new freshmen entering summer or fall terms
(full time = 12+ hrs, counted at end of the fall term)

Students graduating from institutions other than CU-Boulder are NOT counted in the graduation rates.

Rates are updated each October with fall census enrollment information and degrees posted through the prior summer term.

Prior-year highlights, from fall:   2012 |  2011 |  2010 |  2009 |  2008 |  2007 |  2006 |  2005

Questions? E-mail IR@colorado.edu

PBA: L:\ir\tracking\anal\highlightsFYY.doc

Last revision 09/12/14


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