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Part-Time Undergraduates in Postsecondary Education: 2003-04

Author(s):Chen, X.
Organization(s): National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
Description:This report uses data from the 2003–04 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:2004) to profile part-time undergraduates enrolled in U.S. postsecondary institutions in 2003–04. About 49 percent of undergraduates were enrolled exclusively full time in the 2003–04 academic year, 35 percent were enrolled exclusively part time, and 16 percent had mixed enrollment intensity. Part-time undergraduates, especially exclusively part-time students, were at a distinct disadvantage relative to those who were enrolled full time: they came from minority and low-income family backgrounds; they were not as well-prepared for college as their full-time peers; they were highly concentrated in 2-year colleges and nondegree/certificate programs; and many of them worked full time while enrolled and were not enrolled continuously. Using longitudinal data from the 1996/01 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS:96/01), the report also found that part-time enrollment was negatively associated with persistence and degree completion six years after beginning postsecondary education even after controlling for a wide range of factors related to these outcomes. This was the case even for the group of students with characteristics that fit the typical profile of a full-time student (i.e., age 23 or younger, financially dependent on parents, graduated from high school with a regular diploma, and received financial help from parents to pay for postsecondary education). Regardless of whether they resembled full-time students, part-time students (especially exclusively part-time students) lagged behind their full-time peers in terms of their postsecondary outcomes even after controlling for a variety of related factors.
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