What is Graduation Success Rate (GSR)?
Because the ultimate goal of the college experience is graduation, the NCAA has devoted attention to researching student-athlete graduation rates for more than two decades.
All colleges and universities are required by NCAA legislation and federal law (the Student Right-to-Know act from 1990) to report student graduation rates, and those institutions offering athletics aid are required to report for their student-athletes as well. The NCAA acquires student-athlete graduation rate data from the Department of Education's Integrated Post-Secondary Data System Graduation Rate Survey (IPEDS-GRS).
The student-athlete graduation rate calculated directly based on IPEDS-GRS (which is the methodology the U.S. Department of Education requires) is the proportion of first-year, full-time student-athletes who entered a school on athletics aid and graduated from that institution within six years. This federal rate does not account for students who transfer from their original institution and graduate elsewhere; they are considered non-graduates at both the college they left and the one from which they eventually graduate.
NCAA members, particularly presidents and chancellors, asked the NCAA in the early 2000s to develop a measure of student-athlete graduation success that more accurately reflects modern-day patterns of student enrollment and transfer. As a result, the NCAA created the Graduation Success Rate (GSR) for Division I and the Academic Success Rate (ASR)
for Division II.
The NCAA GSR differs from the federal calculation in two important ways. First, the GSR holds colleges accountable for those student-athletes who transfer into their school. Second, the GSR does not penalize colleges whose student-athletes transfer in good academic standing. Essentially, those student-athletes are moved into another college's cohort. The Division II ASR additionally includes student-athletes who did not receive athletics aid, but did participate in athletics.
Because Division III institutions do not award athletics scholarships, they are not required to report rates for student-athletes. However, the NCAA has developed an ASR for Division III and has encouraged those schools to report data for their student-athletes on a voluntary basis.