The Condition of Education 2017: Summaries of Postsecondary Education Data

By Jael Greene

The Condition of Education 2017 was recently released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). This annual report summarizes the latest education data in the United States using a number of indicators in reporting postsecondary statistics, including undergraduate and post-baccalaureate enrollment, characteristics of students and institution graduation and retention rates.

Key findings on postsecondary education include:

  • Total undergraduate enrollment in degree-granting institutions increased by 30 percent between 2000 and 2015. Total graduate enrollment in degree-granting institutions increased by 36 percent in the same time period.
  • In the fall of 2015, 62 percent of undergraduate students were enrolled in four-year institutions, while the remaining 38 percent were enrolled in two-year institutions.
  • Full-time status for the total undergraduate student population varied between two- and four-year institutions.
    • 77 percent of students enrolled at four-year institutions and 39 percent of students enrolled at two-year institutions were enrolled full-time.
  • In 2014, the retention rate among first-time, full-time students enrolled at four-year institutions was 81 percent. The overall retention rate of first-time, full-time students at two-year institutions was 61 percent.
  • The six-year completion rate for first-time, full-time undergraduate students who enrolled at four-year institutions beginning in fall 2009 was 59 percent.
  • The graduation rate* for first-time, full-time undergraduate students who enrolled at two-year institutions beginning in fall 2012 was 29 percent.
  • Financial aid increased and student loan aid decreased between the 2009-10 and 2014-15 school years.
    • In 2014-15, 47 percent of first-time, full-time undergraduate students were awarded loan aid. The average loan aid awarded to first-time, full-time undergraduate students was $7,000, a decrease from $7,700 in 2009-10.
    • 86 percent of first-time, full-time students at four-year institutions received financial aid, an increase from 85 percent in 2009-10.
    • 79 percent of first-time, full-time undergraduate students at two-year institutions were awarded financial aid, an increase from 75 percent in 2009-10.

*For two-year institutions, the graduation rate is calculated as having attained a certificate or associate’s degree within 150 percent of the normal time required for these programs. (For example, 150 percent of a two-year program would be three years.)