Research in Higher Education

, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 249–279 | Cite as

Relative Success? Determinants of College Graduation Rates in Public and Private Colleges in the U.S.

  • Marc ScottEmail author
  • Thomas Bailey
  • Greg Kienzl


Amid growing criticism of public universities, there is little discussion of what appropriate institutional evaluation would entail. Six-year graduation rates are commonly used, and public bachelors granting institutions have lower rates than private institutions, but with the growth in non-traditional college attendance, these can be misleading. We develop a regression analysis as a way to evaluate institutions serving vastly different populations. We do this with a dataset constructed from publicly available sources and focus on the evaluation of public colleges. We show that public colleges are able to do more with less: our models suggest that with equivalent resources and student populations, public schools would graduate a slightly larger percentage of students than privates. Since financial resources come from very different sources, we evaluate this finding closely.


college performance educational economics efficiency 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Steinhardt School of EducationNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Institute on Education and the Economy Teachers CollegeColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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