A maioria dos estudantes em universidades públicas americanas não se forma no tempo certo, de acordo com um novo relatório Complete College America, instituição sem fins lucrativos localizada em Indianápolis.
The vast majority of students at American public colleges do not graduate on time, according to a new report from Complete College America, a nonprofit group based in Indianapolis.
“Students and parents know that time is money,” said the report, called “Four-Year Myth.” “The reality is that our system of higher education costs too much, takes too long and graduates too few.”
At most public universities, only 19 percent of full-time students earn a bachelor’s degree in four years, the report found. Even at state flagship universities — selective, research-intensive institutions — only 36 percent of full-time students complete their bachelor’s degree on time.
Nationwide, only 50 of more than 580 public four-year institutions graduate a majority of their full-time students on time. Some of the causes of slow student progress, the report said, are inability to register for required courses, credits lost in transfer and remediation sequences that do not work. The report also said some students take too few credits per semester to finish on time. The problem is even worse at community colleges, where 5 percent of full-time students earned an associate degree within two years, and 15.9 percent earned a one- to two-year certificate on time.
The lengthy time to graduate has become so much the status quo that education policy experts now routinely use benchmarks of six years to earn a bachelor’s degree and three years for an associate degree.
“Using these metrics may improve the numbers, but it is costing students and their parents billions of extra dollars — $15,933 more in cost of attendance for every extra year of a public two-year college and $22,826 for every extra year at a public four-year college,” the report said. “Hands down, our best strategy to make college more affordable and a sure way to boost graduation rates over all is to ensure that many more students graduate on time.”
Each year, the report said, 1.7 million students begin college in remediation, including a majority of community college students — but only one in 10 remedial students ever graduate.
Also, 60 percent of bachelor’s degree recipients change colleges, with almost half of them losing some of their credits when they transfer.
Too much choice in college catalogs contributes to the problem, the report said, often overwhelming 18-year-olds “with an enormous cafeteria of possibilities in the college curriculum” and too few counselors to help them chart their course.
Tuition borrowers who do not graduate on time take on far more debt in their extra years, the report found. According to data from Temple University in Philadelphia and from the University of Texas, Austin, two extra years on campus increases debt by nearly 70 percent.
While there is widespread agreement that graduation rates are too low, some education experts said they wished Complete College America had considered faculty issues and how much students actually learn.
“They’re too focused on efficiency and not enough on quality,” said Debra Humphreys, a spokeswoman for the Association of American Colleges and Universities. “Yes, we have a huge completion problem, but we also have a problem that a lot of students graduated without learning what they need.”
The report did not include statistics from private colleges and universities.