Some College, No Degree
A 2019 Snapshot for the Nation and 50 States

October 30, 2019

The United States saw nearly one million Some College, No Degree students in just five years who, against all the odds, found their way back into postsecondary education and worked their way through to ultimately earn their first undergraduate credential. This report tells a story of success and points the way to further success.

Former students are most likely to re-enroll and complete in a different institution than their institution of last enrollment, but in the same type of institution and state. They are drawn to online programs, but their most common destination is a local community college.

To reach a state’s postsecondary attainment goal or to address enrollment challenges facing institutions, each state should start with the most up-to-date information from this report to assess and target, for example, how many Some College, No Degree students are residing in state, which students are most likely to return, where they last enrolled, where they are most likely to re-enroll and graduate, and what type of credential they are likely to pursue.

The Some College, No Degree report series seeks to understand the educational trajectories of millions of Americans who left postsecondary education without receiving a degree or certificate. As the second in the series, this report offers insights about their subsequent enrollments and completions, based on the most current national data that tracks individual students over time and across institutions and across state lines since the first report was released in 2014.

Highlights 2019

  • Thirty-six million Americans in the NSC database today hold some postsecondary education and training but no completion and are no longer enrolled, also known as the Some College, No Degree population
  • Ten percent of this population are “potential completers” who have already made at least two years’ worth of academic progress up until their last enrollment. Potential completers were found more likely than other former students to re-enroll and finish college.
  • About 940,000 students identified as Some College, No Degree five years ago, in our first report, have since re-enrolled and are now new completers. In addition, more than a million are still enrolled as of December 2018, for a combined success and progress rate of 54 percent among re-enrollees.
  • Compared to where they last enrolled, returning students were more likely to have re-enrolled at public institutions, and less likely to have done so at private institutions. But online enrollees were more likely to have returned to online institutions.
  • Completers tend to finish at the institution where they first re-enrolled and complete within two years of re-enrolling, without stopping out.
  • Completers typically re-enrolled and finished in the same state where they last enrolled, with a few exceptions.

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