TERRE HAUTE — In spite of COVID-19 setbacks, Indiana State University’s on-time college completion rate increased by 4.5 percentage points for 2020 graduates, according to a report released by the Commission for Higher Education.
For 2019 graduates, the on-time graduate rate was 28.5%, while for 2020 graduates, 33% of students graduated on time. The 2020 data is based on first-time, full-time freshmen who entered ISU in fall 2016 and graduated in the 2019-20 academic year [December, May, or August graduates].
Statewide, the 2020 on-time graduation rate was 44.4% for all students [associate’s or bachelor’s degrees at public institutions]. For all public four-year campuses, 50.1% graduated on time.
The data is found in the Commission’s most recent College Completion Report , which highlights that despite the unprecedented learning disruption caused by COVID-19, students graduated at higher rates in 2020 than in 2019.
“We have worked very hard to improve our graduation rates,” said Susan Powers, ISU associate vice president for academic affairs. “We have worked to streamline curriculum and remove curricular barriers; increase access to and improve academic advising; and we have increased our early graduation checks to communicate with students about missing requirements and determine how to help students navigate the remaining steps.”
For all students, but particularly graduating students, “We worked hard to be flexible to help students complete their requirements [courses, internships, clinicals] when everything shut down in March 2020,” Powers said. “Students who were blocked from finishing those experiences, we extended timelines or determined if we had sufficient information to allow completion.”
For students who started at ISU in fall 2014, the extended time [six year] graduation rate is 52.8%; statewide, the extended time graduation rate for all public four-year institutions was 71.7%.
In other local data, Ivy Tech Terre Haute’s extended-time completion rate increased by 2.6 percentage points; for last year’s report, Ivy Tech Terre Haute’s extended-time completion rate was 39.3%. In this year’s report, it’s 41.9%, which compares favorably to Ivy Tech statewide, which had an extended-time graduation rate of 37.2%.
Ivy Tech Terre Haute’s on time [two-year] graduation rate, for those who started in fall 2018, is 15.1%, which compares favorably to a statewide Ivy Tech average of 14.2%
“We, of course, are very excited for this increase as we continue to work with our students to get them to complete successfully and as quickly as possible as it puts them out into great careers faster,” said Lea Anne Crooks, Ivy Tech Terre Haute chancellor. “We do believe our shift to the eight-week model and five start dates has helped make this possible.”
Crooks said Ivy Tech is encouraged by the increase, “knowing such a small percentage of our students come to us full-time with the intention to complete ‘on-time,’ but we do our best to help them see the value in completing sooner knowing they have many other things to balance.”
Despite the upheaval caused by COVID-19 in the spring of 2020, Indiana’s college completion rates stayed on track or improved at most institutions, according to a Commission news release.
“One possible explanation is that students were already close to graduating when learning shifted from in-person to online due to the impact of the pandemic,” the release said. Completion rates for the class of 2021 are not yet available.
More than 44% of all Hoosier college students graduated on time [within two years for a long-term certificate or associate’s degree, and within four years for a bachelor’s degree]. That’s an increase of 2 percentage points since 2019.
The rate of students graduating in an extended timeframe [within six years for any degree type] also improved, from 62 percent in 2019 to almost 64 percent in 2020.
There has been marked improvement in Indiana’s college completion rates over the past five years at both two- and four-year campuses, the release states. On-time completion rates have increased 10.4 percentage points at four-year campuses and 9.3 percentage points at two-year campuses, the Commission reports.
“Completing college is the foundational marker of college success, and we’ve been intentional about improving this rate for many years,” said Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers. “It is encouraging to see the class of 2020 finished strong, despite the turmoil that was going on last spring.”
She added, “We cannot ease our momentum in making sure that Indiana’s students are fully prepared to enter and complete postsecondary education.”
Campuses with the greatest one-year improvement in on-time graduation rates are Vincennes University, Indiana State University, University of Southern Indiana, Purdue University Northwest, Indiana University Bloomington and Purdue University West Lafayette.
Indiana University Bloomington, Purdue University West Lafayette and Ball State University campuses have the overall highest on-time and extended-time completion rates.
While there was progress in 2020 overall, there are numerous completion gaps that exist for adult learners, Black, Hispanic/Latino and low-income students, the report indicates.
“Indiana will not achieve its big goal of having at least 60 percent of Hoosiers with a quality degree or credential beyond high school without closing these college readiness and success gaps,” said Lubbers.
The full report is available at www.che.in.gov/completion.
Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at [email protected] Follow Sue on Twitter @TribStarSue.