October 21, 2015

Will Your Child Graduate College in Four Years?

When families begin budgeting for college, they don’t typically plan on paying for more than four years of college. But the truth is that most college students will take more than four years to graduate (if they graduate at all).


The majority of students take five or six years to graduate. Only about 30-40% of U.S. college students actually complete their bachelor’s degree in four years. And only 59% of students complete their degree in six years.

It’s important for families to be aware of the realities ahead of time as taking an extra year or two in college can have massive consequences on cost as well as delaying entrance to the workforce.

What is contributing to the extra time students take to complete their degree?

Many parents aren’t planning on their student taking longer than four years to complete their bachelors, but a shocking 60-70% of students do.

College Costs

With the costs of college rising more and more students are working part-time to help come up with the money for tuition. This is not altogether a bad thing. In fact, studies seem to show that working about 10-15 hours a week is actually correlated with higher grades in college. However, working more than 20 hours a week often leads to lower grades and a longer time to graduation.

Studies also show that higher debt is related to a higher chance of students dropping out. Although completing their degree is going to be the best way to pay off the debt, it seems many students get overwhelmed with the debt and decide to drop out rather than learn to take on manageable debt or seek other forms of help or aid.

The best way to limit the impact of tuition costs on student success is to put away plenty of money into a savings account for college ahead of time. Students who don’t have to worry about money while they’re in school, or who don’t have to worry as much, will have greater success in classes.


Many students experience difficulty completing their degree on time due to not being able to take the necessary classes. Even if a student is able to get into the necessary classes, the quality of teaching is greatly impacted by having too many students and not enough time for professors to adequately assist everyone.

The best solution for this is for students to choose their major early, and begin to sign up right away for the classes they need to graduate. A college or faculty advisor can assist with this.

Poor Decisions

Changing majors multiple times or transferring colleges almost always leads to more time spent in college. The students who choose the right major and right school the first time are going to have the best chance of graduating on time. Especially if they form a good relationship with their faculty advisor and get the assistance they need in choosing classes.

To get your student on the right track in choosing a good college and major match, have them fill out their College Profile today

Make sure you check the graduation and retention page of any college profile at College Factual to see how that school does in graduating their students. While not a perfect measure of college success, this is one important factor among many that should go into your college decision.

Are you concerned about your student taking longer than four years to graduate? What do you think are some of the best ways to encourage graduating on time?

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