Time-to-Degree Impact

​Additional years of study have a marked impact on a student’s finances. Longer time-to-degree results in additional college costs and lost earnings. Many students who attend public institutions and take longer to complete their degrees end up, in effect, paying more for their degrees than do students at private colleges and universities who graduate in four years.

Stacked bar graphs depicting financial impact of going to college for five or six years instead four
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Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, Student Financial Aid Survey, 2016–2017 (data reflect average net prices between 2013–2014 and 2016–2017); National Association of Colleges and Employers, 2017 Salary Survey, December 2018. Lost income data point reflects average salary data collected on first-year earnings of 2017 graduates as published in the NACE salary survey report. Analysis by the Council of Independent Colleges.

Affordability; Student Outcomes; Student Debt