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‘Some College, No Credentials’ population rises to 39 million, report finds

May 19, 2022

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center recently released the third report in its Some College, No Credentials (SCNC) series investigating the educational trajectory of U.S. adults who have left postsecondary education without receiving any credentials. This report addresses concerns about low student success rates across the nation and intends to identify opportunities where SCNC students can be encouraged to continue postsecondary programs and earn credentials. This edition features three new metrics for tracking SCNC students: re-enrollment, completion of the first credential, and perseverance indicated by continued enrollment after the first re-enrollment.

The report found that the number of SCNC students increased in the U.S. to about 39 million as of July 2020, which was about 3.1 million (8.6 percent) more than the 36 million SCNC students reported in 2019. Most states experienced a net growth in the number. Combined, California, Texas, New York, and Illinois account for over a third of SCNC students in the country. However, the report found that Alaska has the largest population of SCNC students per 1,000 undergraduates currently enrolled among states.

According to the report, during the 2020-2021 academic year, about 944,200 SCNC students re-enrolled, about 60,400 students earned their first postsecondary credential, and about 531,700 students were still enrolled after re-enrolling the year before. About 70 percent of the credential completers earned their credential from either a two- or four-year public institution. However, private nonprofit four-year institutions showed the highest perseverance rate of 64.8 percent. The report also found that women were more likely to re-enroll, earn credentials, and demonstrate perseverance. Among minority groups, about 34.6 percent of re-enrollees were men, and about 63.5 percent were women.

The report notes that with 46 states having numeric goals for higher education attainment for state residents, focusing on the 39 million students who were already on the path “may seem to be a natural place to start. Even though the likelihood of re-enrollees returning to the institution they left differs by the institution type of last enrollment, they are likely to persevere at the institution where they re-enroll, and some are able to complete their first credential within a single year.”

The full SCNC report is available for download here.

higher ed, workforce