College Persistence and Retention Rates See Slight Uptick

A new report reveals a slight rise in the rates of students who continue to pursue degrees after their first year of college. The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center study measures persistence, the rates of students continuing at any college or university, and retention, those who continue at the same college or university.

Between 2013 and 2022, the overall persistence rate for first-year students rose from 74% to 76.5%, and the retention rate increased from 64.9% to 68.2%.

The jump in overall retention and persistence rates is fueled, in large part, by international students. In 2015, that group had 65.9% and 60.1% persistence and retention rates, respectively. By 2022, those rates jumped to 74.9% and 68.5%.

Disparities remain, however, between the persistence and retention rates between racial and ethnic groups. For 2022, Asian students lead all groups for persistence (88.9%) and retention (80.1%). Native Americans have the lowest rates, with 62.4% persistence and 52.8% retention. 

Females are slightly more likely to remain in college (77.9%) and at the same institution (69.4) than their male counterparts (75.2% and 66.6%).

Entering college at a younger age also appears to affect persistence and retention rates. Students age 20 and younger who began college in 2022 had an 80.9% persistence rate and a 70.9% retention rate. First-year students in any age bracket over 24 did not exceed a 50% persistence or retention rate.

More information on the survey’s results and methodology, including a breakdown of persistence and retention rates by type of institution, can be found here.

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