Monday, October 11, 2010

6-Year Graduation Rates at UC

A group called the American Institutes for Research has been receiving publicity for a database on higher ed and, in particular, dropouts from 4-year institutions. The group describes itself as follows: AIR’s purpose is to conduct and apply behavioral and social science research to improve people’s lives and well-being, with a special emphasis on the disadvantaged. Website at

Its database includes data on 6-year graduation rates from federal data sources during 2003-2008, i.e., what percentage of incoming freshmen graduate within 6 years. You can find the database at The report goes beyond graduation rates and puts dollar figures on the cost of having students who don't graduate. I would be very cautious about the cost numbers. First, someone who attends some college but does not finish has not necessarily wasted his/her time. Second, there are the usual issues of measuring the marginal cost of attendance. However, simple graduation rates are less ambiguous. Here are the numbers for the UC system:

UCLA 90.0%; UC-Berkeley 88.1%; UC-San Diego 84.3%; UC-Santa Barbara 79.9%; UC-Irvine 79.6%; UC-Davis 79.1%; UC-Santa Cruz 68.3%; UC-Riverside 65.9%. (No data on Merced.) When you get into CSU, you tend to find lower rates - sometimes much lower, e.g., Cal State LA is at 31.3%.

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