The lengthy time to graduate has become so much the status quo that education policy experts now routinely use benchmarks of six years to earn a bachelor’s degree and three years for an associate degree.

“Using these metrics may improve the numbers, but it is costing students and their parents billions of extra dollars — $15,933 more in cost of attendance for every extra year of a public two-year college and $22,826 for every extra year at a public four-year college,” the report said. “Hands down, our best strategy to make college more affordable and a sure way to boost graduation rates over all is to ensure that many more students graduate on time.”

Each year, the report said, 1.7 million students begin college in remediation, including a majority of community college students — but only one in 10 remedial students ever graduate.