One of the factors that determines how well a university is doing is their graduation rates.
A study done by the National Student Clearinghouse tracked college students that began school in 2007. It reported that 50.6 percent of college students graduate from a four year public school within six years of their start date. IUPUI is not far below the average.
For IUPUI’s 2007 class of freshmen, six-year graduation rates were 42 percent for all degree types. It rose to 44 percent for 2008 and 2009 freshmen. More improvement is shown when looking at four-year rates for IUPUI. The rate for 2007 freshmen that graduated in four years was only 15.5 percent, but the numbers have risen in the years following. The 2011 freshmen class graduated in four years at a rate of 21.1 percent.
Out of all IU’s campuses, IUPUI is the second most successful in terms of graduation. Bloomington’s 2009 freshmen had a graduation rate of 77 percent.
Universities rely on their graduation rates as a measure of success, partly because of performance based funding. According to the National Conference of State Legislature, thirty-two states have policies that support such funding. Performance is determined by factors such as course completion, transfer rates, degrees awarded and other factors.
Universities that do not do well in these categories receive less funding.
Such is the case with Ivy Tech, whose overall enrollment and graduation rates have declined in the past few years. As a result, Ivy Tech was the only public university that did not receive state funding for building projects in 2015.
As reported by the Indy Star, Ivy Tech’s graduation rate for six years is only 26 percent.
“I don’t think our vocational programs with Ivy Tech are quite aligned with employers around the state of Indiana. That’s a reason why we’ve been stepping back and asked for a study to be done,” Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) told the Indy Star.
However, graduation rates do not reflect all of the students that attend a university. Students that transfer in from another institution and nontraditional students that return to college do not factor into the studies.
“Students that transfer to IUPUI already have their credits from another university, so it would be like comparing apples and oranges,” Michele Hansen, the Executive Director of Institutional Research and Support said.
There are many different factors that can determine whether a student graduates within six years. Financial issues can make a difference, as well as the amount of credit hours a student enrolls in per semester and academic performance.
Switching majors or having to retake classes could also affect whether or not a student graduates on time. An estimated 75 to 80 percent of college students change their majors at least once.
For Ashlee Kimmell, a fifth-year senior and History major, switching majors was what delayed her graduation. She began as a Political Science major, switched to History, and then Education, then back to History.
“History has always been my favorite subject, but it wasn’t until I joined the Sam H. Jones Service Scholars that I knew what I wanted to do for my professional career,” Kimmell said.
There are many different approaches that universities take in an effort to improve their graduation rates.
“It’s a combination of factors. Students might have to work along with going to school, for example,” Hansen said. “We look at social, academic, and financial situations.”
In fact, eighty percent of college students work while attending school.
In Fall 2015, forty percent of first time IUPUI students received the Pell Grant, which is a federal form of financial aid provided to eligible low-income students. The maximum amount a student could receive for the current 2015-2016 school year was $5,775. Seventy-five percent of students that receive the Pell Grant have a family income of $30,000 or less.
However according to Hansen, these students are less likely to enroll in over 15 credit hours or participate in various school programs. They are also more likely to have more commitments outside of school and lower academic performance. All of these factors have negatively impacted student success and graduation.