On March 11, the Coordinating Commission reviewed and approved the 2021 Nebraska Higher Education Progress Report, which includes a wide variety of comparative measures over the past decade 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, and the Coordinating Commission is required to report on progress related to the priorities annually. The Progress Report includes sections on high school graduation rates, college continuation rates, financial aid, college transfer rates, college graduation rates, and migration of Nebraskans to other states. Data are disaggregated by institutional sector – public 4-year; public 2-yr; and non-public colleges and universities – and by race/ethnicity, gender, and income when available.
The report finds that 69.6% of 2018-19 Nebraska public high school graduates continued their studies in a postsecondary institution, which is a slight decline over the previous year, and that Nebraska’s public two- and four-year institutions graduate students at higher rates than the national averages. It also reports that 33.7% of Nebraskans ages 22 to 64 had completed a bachelor’s degree or higher for the period 2015-19, up from 30.8% for the period 2009-13.
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 behind South Dakota and Colorado. In Nebraska, 56.5% of 25-to-44-year old, white non-Hispanics have completed an associate's degree or higher. In comparison, only 30.8% of 25-to-44-year old minority Nebraskans have completed an associate's degree or higher. The net difference is an attainment gap of 25.7 percentage points. Nationally, 51.9% of 25-to-44-year old, white non-Hispanics have completed an associate's degree or higher. In comparison, only 36.1% 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 both high schools and postsecondary institutions, re-enrolling adult students with some college experience but no degree, supporting state financial aid programs, and supporting the growth and development of the Nebraska Career Scholarship Program.