In Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America’s Public Universities, William Bowen, Matthew Chingos, and Michael McPherson conducted an in-depth study to examine the contributors to the less than 60% graduation rate of four-year students at public universities and the serious obstacles that entering students face in completing college. Tracking student information from entry to leave from 21 public universities in four states, the authors examined socioeconomic circumstances, high school grades and test scores, financial aid, and other university characteristics as factors in student graduation rates. 


“The most comprehensive look yet possible at the determinants of graduation rates--and what might be done to improve them. . . . Crossing the Finish Line exemplifies the best that social science research has to offer: rigorous empirical analysis brought to bear on a major public policy issue. Bowen, Chingos, and McPherson have provided an essential resource that both researchers and policymakers will consult for years to come."--Richard C. Atkinson and Saul Geiser, Science Magazine

"Crossing the Finish Line is a must-read for anyone concerned with the disturbing fact that Americans can no longer count on each generation being better educated than the last. Focusing on public institutions that educate more than three-fourths of U.S. students, Bowen, Chingos, and McPherson provide compelling arguments that institutions and policymakers must find new ways to overcome deeply entrenched patterns if our country is to regain its position as the most educated."--Molly Corbett Broad, president, American Council on Education