Nationally, some groups of students tend to have lower retention and graduation rates based on demographic and background characteristics. Many students at higher risk for attrition by national and state standards do very well at DePaul.
At DePaul, we see patterns of consistently high first-to second-year retention across most groups of students, variances in four-year graduation rates by income and ethnicity, and narrowing gaps in six-year graduation rates. First-year academic performance is the key driver of eventual degree attainment; therefore, that is what is closely monitored for all students.
As an institution concerned about student debt, improving four-year rates for all students has been a strategic challenge for DePaul and we see recent upticks in the four-year rates for students at higher risk. In fact, African-American male students have just achieved the highest four-year rates ever. DePaul's six-year rates for low-income, ethnic minority and first-generation students have consistently been close to rates for the cohort on the whole.
To put DePaul's rates into a national context, Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) data reveal that first-generation students graduate from four-year institutions at a rate of only 27 percent in four years and at a rate of 50 percent in six years. DePaul's recent four-year and six-year graduation rates for first-generation students of 54 percent and 67 percent exceed national rates by significant margins.
National completion data on Pell-eligible students is difficult to find; some researchers estimate a 40 percent six-year rate for these students. Illinois data show that Pell-eligible students graduated at a rate of 46 percent in 2008. Again, DePaul's graduation rate for low-income students far exceeds these outcomes; 2012 data show that 50 percent of Pell-eligible students graduate in four years and 67 percent in six years.
Despite these noteworthy outcomes for students at higher risk, we are mindful of the challenges these students face in navigating a large complex institution and affording private post-secondary education. Our Vincentian mission and promise compels us to continue to support these students to the fullest extent.