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Contact:  Kirsten Nelson
(804) 225-2627
For Immediate Release

May 30, 2014

Virginia’s Graduation Rates Among the Best in the Nation

RICHMOND — Students attending Virginia’s 4-year public colleges and universities have a higher likelihood of graduating than students elsewhere, according to a report presented recently to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). Based on the group of students who started college in 2007, 70% have received a degree within six years. That is second only to Delaware.

Virginia also has seen a steady improvement of graduation rates at most 4-year institutions, and a few have shown dramatic improvement over the last eight years. Christopher Newport University has increased its graduation rate from 59% to a 79%; George Mason University and Virginia Commonwealth University saw graduation rates jump by 10 percentage points.

While these numbers are encouraging, strategic improvements could move all of Virginia forward with the economic and social benefits that a highly trained population creates. One important step is recognizing and addressing discrepancies that exist in the graduation rates among socioeconomic groups.

“Dig a bit and the most striking thing in the data is the almost straight line correlation between low family income and low graduation rates,” said Council member Steve Haner. “If you’re looking for the opportunity to make some real improvements, there it is – and with all the focus these days on income disparity, these degrees are the best path to the middle class for these students,” continued Haner. Council’s discussion focused on academic and non-academic strategies that could improve outcomes; additional financial aid and enhanced student services are two examples.

Improving student success across Virginia also requires analyzing the ways in which the Commonwealth’s students are accessing education. In order to delve deeper into student behavior the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia has developed the Student Success Index (SSI). The index is more comprehensive than the traditional measure used nationally.  It tracks the progress of virtually all students who start college: first-time, part-time, and transfer. “Having a more complete understanding of student mobility will help identify what is and isn’t working for students,” said SCHEV Director Peter Blake. “We can use Virginia-specific data to offer insights into the best use of resources toward better statewide results.”

The complete Degree Attainment and Student Success Report can be found at .

SCHEV is the Commonwealth’s coordinating body for Virginia’s system of higher education. The agency provides policy guidance and budget recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly, and is a resource for information on higher education issues.

For more information, contact Kirsten Nelson, Director of Communications, at  or (804) 225-2627.