The 15 US states with the lowest college graduation rates
- Graduation rates vary widely among US colleges and universities.
- Using data from the Department of Education, we found a weighted average of graduation rates for colleges and universities located in each state and DC.
- Colleges in coastal states and Iowa had very high graduation rates.
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Colleges across the US have different graduation rates, and as the map above shows, those rates vary from state to state.
The Department of Education provides data on the share of undergraduate students who complete their degree within 150% of the expected time - that is, graduating within six years for a standard four-year bachelor's degree. For each state, we took an average of those graduation rates among all the colleges and universities in that state that mainly award bachelor's degrees, as opposed to certificate programs or associates degrees.
Those graduation rates were among first-time, full-time students who entered college in the 2011-2012 academic year, six years before the 2017-2018 year, the most recent year for which data was available. State rates were calculated by taking the average rate among all schools in-state, weighted by the size of each school's entering class in 2011.
Here are the 15 states with the lowest weighted average college graduation rate:
15. Alabama: 51.8% of students at colleges in Alabama graduated within six years.
14. South Dakota: 51.5% of students at colleges in South Dakota graduated within six years.Advertisement
13. Tennessee: 50.7% of students at colleges in Tennessee graduated within six years.
12. Louisiana: 49.8% of students at colleges in Louisiana graduated within six years.Advertisement
11. Kentucky: 49.2% of students at colleges in Kentucky graduated within six years.
10. Idaho: 47.4% of students at colleges in Idaho graduated within six years.Advertisement
9. Montana: 47.3% of students at colleges in Montana graduated within six years.
8. West Virginia: 47.0% of students at colleges in West Virginia graduated within six years.Advertisement
7. Arkansas: 46.9% of students at colleges in Arkansas graduated within six years.
6. Oklahoma: 46.3% of students at colleges in Oklahoma graduated within six years.Advertisement
5. Nevada: 45.1% of students at colleges in Nevada graduated within six years.
4. New Mexico: 43.6% of students at colleges in New Mexico graduated within six years.Advertisement
3. Georgia: 42.6% of students at colleges in Georgia graduated within six years.
2. Alaska: 26.4% of students at colleges in Alaska graduated within six years.Advertisement
1. Arizona: 26.3% of students at colleges in Arizona graduated within six years.
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