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News & Media

APLU Statement on Launch of #CountAllStudents & Need for Student-Level Data

May 2, 2018

Washington, DC – Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) President Peter McPherson today released the following statement regarding the launch of the 2018 #CountAllStudents campaign (www.countallstudents.org) and the need for Congress to lift the federal ban on student-level data.

“For far too long the data behind the federal government’s graduation rate has been stuck in a bygone era. By only reporting the success rates of first-time, full-time college students who stay at the same school, the federal graduation rate ignores part-time students as well as those who transfer in and counts full-time students who transfer out as dropouts. With more than half of bachelor’s recipients transferring before earning their degree and nearly one-quarter attending part-time, there is an enormous data gap.

“This is misleading to prospective college students, their families, and the general public – who all view an institution’s graduation rate as a critical metric of success and are largely unaware of its significant flaws. An institution’s federal graduation rate is widely incorporated into various private college rankings, which further underscores how the problems with this grossly incomplete data can quickly spread.

“While it’s easy to focus just on the problems with the data, the #CountAllStudents campaign reminds us that each and every student missing from their institution’s federal graduation rate has a story. Some students attend part-time so they can also care for a family member, others transfer because they serve our country in the military, and some transfer from two-year programs to four-year ones in order to earn a specific degree. All students deserve to be counted.

“The time to lift the federal ban on student-level data is now. Last year, the bipartisan, bicameral College Transparency Act was introduced to do just that. With Congress in the midst of debating the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, now is the moment to bring the federal graduation rate into the 21st Century. We urge Congress to include the College Transparency Act in HEA legislation so we can count all students, including those who transfer and attend part-time.”

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