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Highlights Fall 2013
CU-Boulder undergraduate graduation & freshman retention highlights
- The overall 6-year graduation rate was 70% for full-time freshmen entering in 2008, the most recent class to have had a full 6 years to graduate. This was the second consecutive entry cohort to reach 70% and equals the highest rate ever since tracking began in 1980. This followed 3 consecutive years at 68%, the previous high.
- The 6-year graduation rate for Colorado residents also set a new high (74%), while the non-resident rate equaled the highest ever mark of 65% set by classes entering in 1996, 1997, and 2007.
- The 6-year graduation rate for students of color in the entering class of 2008 reached an all-time high at 65%, one percentage point higher than last year. The gap between students of color and white students was 6 percentage points, in line with the usual gap historically.
- The 4-year graduation rate for the class entering in 2009 was 47%, equaling the highest ever mark set last year. Residents also equaled last year’s all-time high of 49%, while non-residents set a new high at 45%. The rate for students of color was the highest ever at 41%.
- 62% of the 4,667 FY 2014 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 5 consecutive years, from 55% of FY 2009 graduates, and is the highest since at least 2002. The median time to degree for the FY2014 degree cohort was 3.7 years, equivalent to the 4th spring after fall entry.
- The one-year retention rate for freshmen entering in 2013 was 84%, one percentage point lower than last year’s. It’s been between 83-85% every year since 2001.
Links within the following pages show detail, including tables and graphic plots
Fall 2014 Highlights Detail
- The overall 6-year graduation rate was 70% for full-time freshmen entering in 2008, the most recent class to have had a full 6 years to graduate. This is the second consecutive cohort to reach 70%, the highest rate ever since tracking began in 1980. 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 2008 had a 6-year graduation rate of 74%, an all-time high, one percentage point higher than last year’s previous high.
- The non-resident graduation rate was 65% for the second consecutive cohort, equaling the all-time high set by the entering classes of 1996, 1997, and 2007. 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 2010, equaling last year’s all-time high. The 49% rate for residents also equaled the highest ever, while the 45% rate for non-residents was a new high. Women (56%) set a new high as well, while men equaled their previous high.
- The 4-year graduation rate for students of color entering in 2010 was 41%, a new high and an increase of 2 percentage points over the previous high set by the prior two cohorts.
- The one-year retention rate for the freshman class entering in fall 2013 was 84%. 1 percentage point lower than the 2012 class. It has been between 82-85% every year since 1990 and between 83-85% since 2001.
- The resident retention rate, which has held fairly steady for years, was 87%, a 1 percentage point increase over the prior year’s cohort. It has been between 85-87% since 1995. The non-resident rate was 81%, a 1 percentage point decline from the prior year’s, which was 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.
- The University of Colorado Boulder now participates in the Student Achievement Measure (SAM), which uses data from the National Student Clearinghouse to track students who begin as
freshmen at an institution, not only if they continue at that institution, but also if they transfer to other institutions participating in the Clearinghouse.
This enables the calculation of an enhanced graduation rate – including students in an entering freshman cohort who graduate either from CU-Boulder or from another institution.
For the entering class of fall 2007, the latest available at this time, according to SAM data 69% graduated from CU-Boulder within 6 years, while 11% graduated from another 4-year institution,
making the enhanced graduation rate 80%. An additional 9% were still enrolled either at CU-Boulder or other institutions, meaning that only 11% of the original entry cohort could not be shown
to have either graduated or still be working on degrees. For more information see the SAM website at www.studentachievementmeasure.org.
- 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 3-point gap for the entering class of 2008 was on the low end of the usual range, 2 points lower than the prior year’s, and the lowest since the entry class of 2003. 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 2010 was 56%, setting a new all-time high for the fifth consecutive year. The four-year rate of 40% for men was one point better than the prior year’s class and equaled 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 probably at least in part due to smaller numbers, have been generally increasing in recent years. The graduation rate for students of color from the entering class of 2008 reached an all-time high, at 64%. The gap between students of color and white students, 6 percentage points, was in the usual range historically.
- The 6-year graduation rate for Asian-Americans was 72%, an all-time high.
- The 6-year graduation rate for Hispanic/Latino students was 63%, also a record high.
- The 6-year graduation rate for African-Americans was 57%, 1 percentage point higher than the prior year’s cohort, and the 4th-highest ever. However, it was 7 percentage points below the record high set by the entering class of 2006.
- The 1-year retention rate for students of color in the class entering in 2013 was 83%, the same as the prior year’s, and only 1 point off the class of 2009’s all-time high. The rate for African Americans was 83%, the highest in 4 years and equaling the 5th highest ever. The retention rate Hispanic/Latinos was 2 percentage points higher than last year’s, while Asian-Americans dropped by 3 percentage points. Generally over time the retention rate for students of color has been 1 to 3 percentage points below other students; this year the gap was 1 percentage point.
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 2008, Colorado residents who received Pell grants in their first year had a 63% grad rate, students who receive subsidized Stafford loans 68%, while those who received neither had a 78% graduation rate. For non-residents, the comparable numbers were 51%, 61%, and 67%.
- For first-generation Colorado resident students in the entering class of 2008, the graduation rate was 60%, compared to 77% for non-first-generation Colorado residents. For non-residents, the comparable percentages were 55% and 66%.
- The 6-year graduation rate for students living in Williams Villiage was 60%, 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 2013 cohort was 80%, compared to 87% for students living in the central part of campus.
- 8% of students in the 2008 cohort chose not live in the residence halls. Their 6-year graduation rate was 66%.
- Arnett Hall had the highest 6-year graduation rate - 89%. Stearns West Hall and Stearns East Hall 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 5 straight years, to 62% for 2014. The average over the last 13 years has been 57%. It has been 59% for students who entered as non-residents, 56% for residents; 65% for females, 50% for males.
- The median time to degree for bachelor’s recipients in 2014 was 3.7 years, the same as in 2011-13, 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 3.7 years, while those who began with undeclared majors took a median of 4.0 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 2014 has been 4.2 years – fall of the 5th year.
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:
Questions? E-mail IR@colorado.edu