When did the four year degree stop being a thing?

Last Updated on November 10, 2020 by Real College Matters

25 February 2020

With college sticker prices up to $78,000 annually, I think it’s reasonable for one to consider whether that price will ultimately be multiplied by a 4 or a 5. Or a 6.

Any way I look at the data, only about 40% of college students attending U.S. colleges earn a bachelor’s degree in four years. When did “four years” stop being a thing?

There are no perfect metrics when it comes to evaluating a college; causality of everything is manifold. I’m writing about four-year graduation rates because the public conversation assumes a four-year journey to a bachelor’s degree, not because a college or its student body should necessarily be measured or evaluated with this single measure. So, rather than seeking to scandalize schools with low-ish 4-year completion rates, I’m focusing instead on those which boast really stellar numbers.

The data set below includes all four-year colleges which reported at least an 80% four-year grad rate during the last admissions cycle–that is, those which graduate their students in four years at more than double the national average. I’ve included their sticker prices, as well as some info about the amount of need-based and merit (non-need-based) aid they award.

Check it out! Don’t miss the chance to sort by sticker price, all you Centre fans!

If the chart below doesn’t cooperate with your mobile device, try to go to this link instead: