The Coordinating Commission recently published the 2018 Nebraska Higher Education Progress Report, which provides comparative statistics to monitor and evaluate progress toward achieving three priorities for Nebraska's postsecondary education system:
- Increase the number of students who enter postsecondary education in Nebraska.
- Increase the percentage of students who persist and successfully complete a degree.
- Reduce, eliminate, and then reverse the net out-migration of Nebraskans with high levels of educational attainment.
The priorities were set by the Nebraska Legislature in 2003, which also required the Coordinating Commission to report on progress related to the priorities annually. The Progress Report includes sections on college enrollment, high school graduation rates, college continuation rates, financial aid, college transfer rates, and college graduation rates.
The report finds that 71% of 2015-16 Nebraska public high school graduates continued their studies in a postsecondary institution and that Nebraska’s public two- and four-year institutions graduate students at higher rates than the national averages. It also reports that almost a third of Nebraskans ages 22 to 64 had completed a bachelor’s degree or higher for the period 2012-16, up from just under 30% for the period 2007-11. One of the report's key findings is that the gap in educational attainment between Nebraska's whites and minorities is the third largest in the nation. In Nebraska, 54.4% of 25-to-44-year old, white non-Hispanics have completed an associate's degree or higher. In comparison, only 27.5% of 25-to-44-year old minority Nebraskans have completed an associate's degree or higher. The net difference is an attainment gap of 26.8 percentage points.
Nationally, 48.8% of 25-to-44-year old, white non-Hispanics have completed an associate's degree or higher. In comparison, only 32.4% of 25-to-44-year old minorities have completed an associate's degree or higher.
The report includes numerous recommendations that address identified areas for improvement, including increasing dual credit opportunities, developing additional career academies, increasing academic and career counseling at postsecondary institutions, enrolling adult students with some college experience but no degree, supporting state financial aid programs, and evaluating workforce education initiatives in other states to determine their transferability to Nebraska.