Residence Hall living leads to higher graduation rates, study shows

AMES, Iowa -- Incoming freshmen who live in university housing at Iowa State University for one year are 20 percent more likely to graduate than incoming freshmen who never live on campus.

Living on campus for two years boosts the graduation rate to almost 25 percent higher than students who live off campus throughout their undergraduate experience.

The study was conducted for traditional-age, direct-from-high school students who entered the university in the fall of 1999 and looked at graduation rates within six years of freshmen enrollment.

A six-year undergraduate timeline is considered the national standard for comparisons at universities and colleges.

The study revealed that the graduation rate for those who lived in the residence halls or undergraduate apartments for two years was 80.8 percent. Students who lived in residence halls for one year graduated at a 77.1 percent rate. Students who never lived on campus graduated at a 56.5 percent rate.

"Naturally, we're very happy to confirm that our residence halls provide an atmosphere in which students cannot only live, but learn and develop," said Peter Englin, Iowa State University's director of residence.

Englin said that on-campus students have greater access to academic and personal resources that can make facing the challenges of college life easier. Also, students living on campus make friends quickly and participate in more leadership and learning activities. As a result students are more connected to the university and vested in their own success.

Englin noted that there are several additional reasons that may account for the large difference in graduation rates.

"There is the issue of distractions," he said. "Off-campus living includes cooking, travel time, bills and other activities that make living off campus more hectic, busy and stressful. These time commitments can take away a student's focus on learning and self development."

Results from the study are posted at