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Contact: Melissa Hahn | 217.557.7354 | 217.441.1006 cell |

Sept. 4, 2018


SPRINGFIELD – Illinois now leads the nation in bachelor’s degree completion rates among community college students. With the latest cohort (students who entered a community college in 2010, tracked over six years), Illinois has surpassed both Iowa and Washington by a noticeable margin. In fact, 53.8 percent of new Illinois community college students in 2010 (both full- and part- time) who transferred to a four-year college completed a bachelor’s degree within six years.

“This report proves that Illinois is a great state for both successful transfers and degree completion,” said Illinois Board of Higher Education Executive Director Dr. Al Bowman. “The numbers would be higher across the board and especially in Illinois if the data included dual-credit earners, because Illinois is a leader in dual credit use.”


This 11.6 percentage point (27.5 percent) advantage over the national average points to the Illinois Articulation Initiative (IAI), which is the state’s strong, coordinated system of transfer. Bowman said, “It is no accident that Illinois is ranked so highly on transfers. Institutions of high learning across the state and the regulatory agencies, like IBHE, work hard to make sure transfers are smooth.”

The details are included in the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s report called Tracking Transfer: Measures of Effectiveness in Helping Community College Students to Complete Bachelor’s Degrees. Illinois is also well above the national average in every measured outcome in the study, as it was in the 2016 report.

Illinois, Washington, and Iowa have traditionally been among the top states for bachelor’s degree completion among community college students (see the IBHE Data Point reflecting last year’s numbers). However, the new report indicates that Illinois is outperforming both Washington and Iowa, while still serving significantly more students.

When looking at all first-time community college students, which include those who do not transfer, nearly one out of every five Illinois community college students (18.9 percent) who initially enrolled in fall of 2010 had completed a bachelor’s degree within six years of initially enrolling. For context, 35 percent of the community college students being tracked actually transferred to a bachelor’s granting institution.

This bachelor’s completion rate for Illinois community college students was highest in the nation and outpaced the national average (13.3 percent) by nearly six percentage points and 42.1 percent.