When many parents prepare for financing a child's college education, they base their plan on the expectation that their child will graduate in four years. However, often the time to graduation is longer. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) claims that only about 40 percent of students graduate from college in four years.
Overtime (OT) in college translates to a very different financial ball game. It means a significantly higher total cost for a college education. A fifth year could boost the total cost by about 25 percent.
While each student is obviously unique, certain statistics can still provide useful parameters as parents evaluate their child's potential time to graduation. NCES examined 1999-2000 bachelor's degree recipients and compared them with 1992-1993 recipients. The results are as follows:
While the good news is that the time to graduation declined, the bad news is that the average student still took more than four years to complete a degree.
Alarmingly, some students took much longer. A separate study by the NCES monitored students over a six-year time frame. Overall, only 51 percent of undergraduates who began in 1995-1996 had attained a degree or certificate six years later. An additional 14 percent were still enrolled after six years.
A number of reasons explain the delay:
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