Illinois State University’s graduation rate continues its strong upward trend and now stands at 73.4 percent, the University’s highest graduation rate in recent history.

Illinois State is already among the top 10 percent of public and private universities nationwide based on graduation rates. The national average for graduation rates at public universities is 56 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

“It’s the context of these very high rates that demonstrates the strength of the education we offer at Illinois State,” said Troy Johnson, associate vice president of enrollment management. “Some of the most well-known universities in the nation hover at rates of 69 to 70 percent. Illinois State’s rate eclipses those elite institutions and is only a few percentage points less than several other world-class American universities.”

Graduating on time means students leave Illinois State with lower debt and begin their careers sooner. Less debt also means graduates are better able to pay off student loans. The University’s low student loan default rate of 2.8 percent is a further reflection of the affordability of an Illinois State education, and the career success enjoyed by alumni.

The consistently strong academic quality of the student body contributes to the rising graduation rate. The fall 2015 freshman class has a high school GPA of 3.4 on a 4.0 scale and an average ACT score near 24. More than 200 freshmen with an ACT score of 30 or higher are enrolled.

“Illinois State’s record high graduation rate is a testament to the University’s high quality academic programs and its strong commitment to student success,” said President Larry Dietz. “Graduates leave Illinois State with the knowledge and skills they need for lives and careers in an ever-changing, globalized world. An Illinois State education prepares graduates to be leaders in their chosen fields.”