National Institute on Aging

Blacks Make Up a Large Share of Students With Some College Credits But No Credentials

With overall enrollments in colleges and universities have decreased, many educational institutions and local governments are mounting efforts to encourage students who had earned some credits but had dropped out of college, to return to school to get their credentials. While nearly a million of these students returned to college in the 2020-21 academic year, their numbers were lower than the increase in students who left school without earning a degree.

A new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center finds that the Some College, No Credential (SCNC) population has reached 40.4 million, up 1.4 million from 39.0 million in the previous year. A lack of re-enrollment and 2.3 million new students who did not return to college drove this large growth. All 50 states experienced growth in the SCNC population. All SCNC outcome indicators (re-enrollment, completion, and perseverance) declined from the previous year.

Black students made up 13.8 percent of all enrolled undergraduate students but 19.4 percent of all students who entered college in 2013 or later and who have not earned a credential.

Of the 944,200 SCNC students that re-enrolled in higher education in the 2020-21 academic year, 508,700, or nearly 54 percent, were still enrolled a year later and 6.4 percent had earned a credential. For Black SCNC students who re-enrolled in the 2020-21 academic year, 50.4 percent were enrolled a year later and 5.0 percent had earned a credential. The percentage of Black SCNC students who re-enrolled in the 2020-21 academic year who remained enrolled or had earned a credential was the lowest of any racial or ethnic group.

The full report, Some College, No Credential Student Outcomes, may be downloaded here.

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