= Top southern state

(not available for all indicators)

Postsecondary Enrollment Rate

Percentage of North Carolinians aged 18-24 enrolled in a postsecondary institution

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North Carolina’s postsecondary enrollment rate for 18-24-year-olds was 41% in 2019, placing our state 28th among all states. Virginia (43%) was the southern comparison state with the highest postsecondary enrollment rate. By 2030, the goal is to have 47% of North Carolina 18-24-year-olds enrolled in college or graduate school.


First-Year Persistence Rate

Percentage of students beginning postsecondary at a North Carolina institution and continue to a second year of enrollment at any postsecondary institution

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North Carolina’s first-year persistence rate was 78%, placing our state 15th among all states in 2019. Georgia (79%) had the highest first-year persistence rate among southern states. By 2030, the goal is to have 80% of North Carolina’s first-year undergraduate students persist to their second year.


Postsecondary Completion Rate:
4yr Public

Percentage of students beginning postsecondary at a North Carolina 4-year public institution who complete a degree or credential within 6 years

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North Carolina’s postsecondary completion rate for students who began at a 4-year public institution was 77% in 2020, placing our state 9th among all states.  In Virginia, the top-performing southern state, this rate was 80%. By 2030, the goal is to have 80% of students who begin postsecondary at a University of North Carolina system school complete a degree or credential within six years.


Postsecondary Completion Rate:
4yr Private

Percentage of students beginning postsecondary at a North Carolina 4-year private institution who complete a degree or credential within 6 years

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North Carolina’s postsecondary completion rate for students who began at a 4-year private institution was 75% in 2020, placing our state 20th among all states. In Texas and Tennessee, the top-performing southern states, the rate was 77%. By 2030, the goal is to have 80% of students who begin postsecondary at a North Carolina 4-year private institution complete a degree or credential within six years.


Postsecondary Completion Rate:
2yr Public

Percentage of students beginning postsecondary at a North Carolina 2-year public institution who complete a degree or credential within 6 years

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During the 2019-20 school year, 53% of North Carolina’s eligible 4-year-olds from lower income families were enrolled in a state Pre-K program. In Georgia, the top-performing southern state, this rate was 50%. By 2030, the goal is to have 45% of students who begin college at an NC community college complete a degree or credential within six years.

Key Transition Points

North Carolina County Profiles

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Alamance Alexander Alleghany Anson Ashe Avery Beaufort Bertie Bladen Brunswick Buncombe Burke Cabarrus Caldwell Camden Carteret Caswell Catawba Chatham Cherokee Chowan Clay Cleveland Columbus Craven Cumberland Currituck Dare Davidson Davie Duplin Durham Edgecombe Forsyth Franklin Gaston Gates Graham Granville Greene Guilford Halifax Harnett Haywood Henderson Hertford Hoke Hyde Iredell Jackson Johnston Jones Lee Lenoir Lincoln McDowell Macon Madison Martin Mecklenburg Mitchell Montgomery Moore Nash NewHanover Northampton Onslow Orange Pamlico Pasquotank Pender Perquimans Person Pitt Polk Randolph Richmond Robeson Rockingham Rowan Rutherford Sampson Scotland Stanly Stokes Surry Swain Transylvania Tyrrell Union Vance Wake Warren Washington Watauga Wayne Wilkes Wilson Yadkin Yancey

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