When families invest time and resources in pursuing higher education, they deserve to know their investments are likely to result in meaningful credentials and lead to fruitful careers. To make the promise of a quality college education a reality for all, Connecticut’s system of higher education should create wide and equitable opportunities for students while preparing our broad workforce to meet changing business demands.
Unfortunately, in comparing six-year graduation rates and net prices among Connecticut bachelor degree granting colleges, between each of those four-year colleges and respective national peers, and looking at them individually across years, we have found a number of troubling trends in the state’s higher education system. This report examines 22 of Connecticut’s 27 four-year bachelor degree granting programs. (Excluded are schools for which we cannot find national comparison institutions or data. ) In particular, this report identifies three key concerns about how well the state’s four-year colleges are serving students and preparing them to succeed in Connecticut’s workforce:
Too many Connecticut four-year colleges have low rates of completion, either for their general populations or for underrepresented minority subgroups.
Of the 22 Connecticut four-year colleges for which we have comparative data, three consistently graduate less than 50 percent of their entire student bodies within six years of initial enrollment.
Seven consistently graduate less than 50% of their underrepresented minority populations in six years.
Almost half of Connecticut’s four-year colleges charge an exceptionally high net price to students from the lowest income families.
In 2016, 12 Connecticut four-year colleges charged more than double the net price that a national peer institution charged to comparable low-income students.
Most concerning is the set of Connecticut colleges that combine low graduation rates and high net prices for low-income students relative to peer institutions nationally.
We call these four schools “double offenders.”
As a state, it’s time for Connecticut to dig into trends like these and begin to identify causes and solutions. Good policymaking starts with understanding the problem and keeping in mind the responsibility that our society—taxpayers and schools alike—has to the next generation of young people.