A study to see if a student's background can influence how long it will take them to complete a degree has found overall 63 per cent of students who enrolled in a degree program finished it within four years no matter what.

But the study conducted Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission (MPHEC) found if students didn't have to work, had the financial support from parents and if one of the parents had a degree, the chances of that student graduating within four years went up to 74 per cent.

"Socioeconomic status, we know influences a student's pathway through their education however what this shows is it's only an interaction with other factors," MPHEC interim CEO Catherine Stewart said. 

She said the study shows what was long suspected that certain factors did have a role to play. 

"But what we didn't understand was that it wasn't anyone on their own that wouldn't impact on the student's time to complete their degree. It was only when these three factors occurred together." 

Less likely to borrow

The study also found students that had more financial support were less likely to to take out loans for their education at 32 per cent over the average for all graduates at 60 per cent. 

As a comparison, 39 per cent of graduates who reported to the survey they worked full-time during their studies and whose parents were neither university educated nor identified as a top source of educational funding, completed their degree within four years.

Those students were also more likely to borrow to finance their education with a survey result of 89 per cent.

When it came to employment outcomes such as the rate of full-time employment and earnings were not influenced by how long it took to get the degree, 

But for those who took five or more years to complete their degree were 49 per cent less likely to pursue further education than their peers who completed within four years. That percentage was 69.

Stewart said the study can be used by students and parents when planning for future education. 

The survey was done with graduating classes of 2007 and 2012 two years after they graduated along with information from universities.

It looked at 3,063 students who were bachelor degree's graduates who enrolled in their degree on a full-time basis and were 19 years of age or less in December 31st of their first year enrolled.

With files from Mainstreet P.E.I.