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HomeCampus Life39M Americans Attend College but Leave Without Degree: Study

39M Americans Attend College but Leave Without Degree: Study


The number of college students who have left postsecondary education without a degree has climbed to 39 million according to a National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC) report released Tuesday. 

According to the report, the “some college, no credential” (SCNC) population in the US has increased by 3.1 million, or 8.6 percent, since 2019. Every state except Nebraska and Connecticut has seen a rise in SNCS students.

More than a third of these students are from California, Texas, New York, and Illinois, but Arizona has experienced the sharpest increase at 86,400 students. However, among all the states, Alaska had the largest number of SCNC students per 1,000 currently enrolled undergraduates at 4,961.

“These outcomes indicate the scale of opportunity that the SCNC population represents for efforts to raise the level of postsecondary education attainment in the US,” NSCRC Executive Director Doug Shapiro said

“Moreover, at a time when most colleges are still reeling from historic enrollment declines during the pandemic, the continued health of higher education institutions, and their ability to meet the needs of future students, may depend on their success at re-engaging SCNC learners,” he added.

Other Findings

The majority of these students are under 35 and last attended community colleges. The report also found that Black, Native American, and Latinx groups were over-represented, collectively making up 42.8 percent of the entire SNSC.

However, more than 944,000 students between 18 and 64 have re-enrolled and most of them are women (63.5 percent). Around 62 percent of these students switched to a new school upon re-entering higher education. 

Private nonprofit four-year institutions had the highest rate of SNSC re-enrollers at 64.8 percent, while community colleges had the lowest at 50.2 percent.

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