The number of U.S. students who earned college degrees stalled last year, another consequence of the pandemic.
There were 3.7 million new graduates in the 2019-2020 academic year, according to data released last week by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. That figure was flat from the previous year and the first time in eight years there was no growth in those who received a degree.
Community college and certificate programs had a sharp drop in graduates. Associate-degree earners fell 6.7% and students who received certificates tumbled by almost 20%.
The declines may mean students left their programs to address financial, health or family needs as COVID-19 spread. A 2019 Clearinghouse study showed 36 million people progressed with some higher education but didn’t earn credentials.
The new data “suggests further declines to come in community college student degree attainment,” said Doug Shapiro, executive director of the Clearinghouse.