Despite a great deal of time, money, and effort spent by foundations, educational institutions, and policy-makers to decrease the number of college students who leave college over the past four years, the opposite has happened. According to recent findings from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, the portion of first-time U.S. students who return to college for a second year dropped 1.2 percentage points since 2009.

The 1.2 percentage point dip is substantial, as it applies to a total enrollment of 3.1 million students. That means an additional 37,000 students last fall would still be enrolled under the 2009 persistence rate. The largest decline was among young students who were just out of high school.


The report doesn’t address potential reasons for this drop but the news will certainly give pause to those organizations involved in national college completion efforts such as Project Win-Win, Achieving the Dream, and Complete College America.

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