By Kim Clark
December 17, 2015
The University of Georgia tops the list of most improved colleges in terms of graduation rates.
Paul Efland—University of Georgia

Here’s some encouraging college news: Most colleges are getting better at educating and supporting students through to graduation.

A new study of college graduation rates by the Education Trust, a Washington, D.C., think tank, has found that most colleges have raised their graduation rates during the last decade. And, overall, beleaguered public colleges have improved the most. Today, 58% of freshmen at public colleges earn bachelor’s degrees within six years. While that might not sound impressive, it’s almost 5 percentage points higher than the rate from a decade ago.

Importantly, colleges are also generally a doing a better job of helping minority students graduate, the report found. Over the last decade, the graduation rates for Latino students has risen more than 7%, and the rate for African-American students has risen more than 4%.

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A MONEY analysis of the data shows that 14 public colleges stand out as the most rapidly improving high-value colleges in the nation. These colleges all currently have above-average graduation rates, have raised their graduation rates for all students by at least 10% since 2003, and have reduced the achievement gap disparities among races over that time.

MONEY ranks colleges on a combination of educational quality, affordability, and the financial success of graduates.

college Money rank Graduation rate*
University of Georgia 68 83%
San Diego State University 116 66%
California State University-Long Beach 121 60%
Ohio State University-Main Campus 134 83%
University at Buffalo 147 72%
University of Central Florida 367 67%
Temple University 399 66%
Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania 437 63%
Grand Valley State University 473 70%
Georgia State University 483 53%
Ferris State University 509 43%
SUNY Oneonta 525 70%
University of Minnesota-Morris 566 63%
Virginia Commonwealth University 659 57%

*As of 2013, the last year for which federal data is currently available.

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