A report by ACT Incorporated of Iowa City shows the dropout rate for collegefreshmen in 1998 improved slightly across the nation. ACT spokesman KelleyHayden says public colleges experienced a slight increase while privatecolleges saw the dropout rate fall. Hayden says private colleges had seentheir dropout rate increase each of the last ten years.The overall dropout rate was 26-point-four percent — a half a percentdecrease. ACT is known for its college enterance tests. Hayden sayscolleges have made attempts to make sure that students are prepared whenthey come to school and that has helped.The report also shows that students who are staying in school need more timeto get a degree. The percentage of students who earn degrees within fiveyears has dropped to just over fifty-two percent. Hayden says it takeslonger for students to graduate because they aren’t taking a full load ofclasses. He says the economy is also partly to blame because there areplenty of jobs available and many students are opting to make money insteadof incur debt by going to college.Hayden says the number of students able to graduate in five years hasdropped in all but two of the last fifteen years.