On March 10, the Coordinating Commission reviewed and approved the 2022 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 only 66.9% of 2019-20 Nebraska public high school graduates continued their studies in a postsecondary institution, the lowest percentage in a decade and a significant decline from 70.6% continuation for 2017-18 graduates. Continuation rates in Nebraska, like other states, have likely been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the 2019-20 high school graduates continuing to college, 81.9% attended a Nebraska college or university. Once in college, Nebraska’s public two- and four-year institutions continue to graduate students at higher rates than the national averages.
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.