More non-native college graduates are choosing to remain in the area after finishing school, a sign that the Greater Philadelphia region is on the rise as a college town, according to a new survey being released today by the nonprofit Campus Philly.

The report, based on a 2010 survey of 4,600 students and alumni of local colleges and universities, found that 48 percent of non-native Philadelphians said that they were staying in the area after graduation.

By comparison, a 2004 survey showed that only 29 percent of non-natives stayed in the area.

"With these graduates staying, we'll ensure Philadelphia and the region has a more educated work force, lower unemployment and more business interested in coming to Philadelphia," Mayor Nutter said in a statement.

Interestingly, the region is retaining fewer native Philadelphia students now (79 percent) than it did in 2004 (86 percent).

A variety of factors are driving the increased interest, Campus Philly said. Among them:

* Students are becoming familiar with the region by engaging in more on-campus programs. More than 70 percent of those surveyed said that they were involved in on-campus activities, the most popular being volunteering and community service.

* More students are finding work off-campus. There is also a strong correlation between having a summer internship in the region and staying after graduation.

* The area's culture and nightlife is appealing; 83 percent of those surveyed said that they would recommend Greater Philadelphia as a place to go to college.

Campus Philly aims to fuel economic growth by encouraging students to embrace the area. President Deborah Diamond said that the study would help the organization shape future programming.

"We know we have to expose more of our students to the neighborhoods they can live in and the lifestyle they can have here after graduation," Diamond said in a statement.