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Calculating Graduation Rates

Students, faculty, staff and members of the general public often ask how graduation rates are calculated. It’s not surprising that so many people have questions - the process is not a simple one.

Graduation rates are based on a segment of the college’s student body – those students who are attending college for the first time during the fall term and carry a full course load (at least 12 credits). This group is called the First-Time Freshman (FTF) cohort. Although TTC’s student body was 13,561 in the Fall 2016 the FTF cohort was only 1,187.

To calculate the graduation rate, the college tracks these students for three years after their first fall term. Only those students who graduate within 150% of the “normal” time for their program count as graduates for the graduation rate. The allowed program times are defined by the U.S. Department of Education and the South Carolina Technical College System. For TTC’s academic programs they are:

Program Type

Normal Program Time

150% Program Time

Associate Degree

2 Years

3 Years


16 Months

2 Years


12 Months

18 Months

Only those students who complete their program within the allotted time count as graduates.

All other members of the FTF cohort do not count as graduates. These include:

  • Students who completed their program, but after the 150% cutoff date
  • Students who transfer without completing a program of study
  • Students who continue their enrollment at TTC
  • Students who leave the college or reduce their course loads for employment reasons

Historically, graduation rates at two year colleges have been low. The South Carolina Technical College System had a system-wide graduation rate of 14.4% for the Fall 2013 FTF cohort.

TTC’s faculty and staff are concerned about the success of all TTC students. This concern has prompted the college to undertake several initiatives aimed at improving student success and retention, including participation in the national Achieving the Dream initiative and the creation of the student Hub to improve new student onboarding and advising.

If you have additional questions about graduation rates, you may contact the Institutional Research office at 843-574-6771.