Six years later, we are starting to get the first clear look at how all those students fared, and the numbers aren’t pretty. According to a new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, barely half — 52.9 percent — of students who enrolled in fall 2009 had earned a bachelor’s or associate degree six years later. That’s down from a completion rate of 56.1 percent for the students who enrolled in 2007. (Graduation rates were especially low for students at for-profit colleges.)

The decline was bigger for some groups than for others. Among traditional students — full-time students who were 20 years old or younger when they enrolled — the six-year graduation rate was 68.3 percent, down only a bit from 2007. But graduation rates were much lower, and fell much more sharply, for older and part-time students, the same groups that saw big enrollment increases during the recession. Among part-time students who were in their early 20s when they enrolled, just 9.1 percent had degrees six years later…