This report shows the “some college, no credential” (SCNC) population—former students who stopped out without earning a credential—is up 3.6 percent from a year earlier while fewer SCNC students returned and completed a credential. This suggests there’s an increasingly missed opportunity for states and institutions to reengage SCNC students.

The study says that between July 2020 and July 2021, the United States added 1.4 million more SCNC students. That brings the SCNC population to 40.4 million (July 2021), up from 39.0 million a year earlier. All 50 states and D.C. experienced growth.

In addition to detailing the SCNC population growth nationally and in each state, the report shows the annual re-enrollment and completion outcomes among SCNC students and those who persevered beyond their first year of re-enrollment. Highlights of the include:

  • Approximately 2.9 million (or 7.3% of the SCNC population) are “potential completers” who have already made at least two years’ worth of academic progress up until their last enrollment.
  • Most SCNC students are younger than 35 at the last enrollment. Potential completers and recent stop-outs are relatively younger, with nearly a quarter of recent stop-outs under 20 (24.6%) and potential completers primarily in their early 20s (55.6%).
  • Community colleges are the most common type of institution of last enrollment, re-enrollment, and first credential attainment for SCNC students.
  • Compared to the previous year, fewer SCNC students re-enrolled (864,800, -8.4%), earned a credential within one year after re-enrolling (53,300, -11.8%), or persevered into their second year of re-enrollment (508,700, -4.3%). The overall annual re-enrollment rate fell from 2.4% to 2.1%, and the completion rate within a year of re-enrolling fell from 6.4 to 6.2 percent.
  • Potential completers and recent stop-outs are more likely to re-enroll (6.1% and 9.4%, respectively) and to complete a credential within a year after re-enrolling (11.6% and 7.1%, respectively).