Nebraska's Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education

Annual Progress Report Assesses Nebraska College Going and Completion, Makes Recommendations

On March 15, the Coordinating Commission reviewed and approved the 2024 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 65.2% of 2021-22 Nebraska public high school graduates continued their studies in a postsecondary institution within one year of graduation, the lowest percentage in a decade and a significant decline from 70.6% continuation for 2017-18 graduates. Low-income high school graduates are significantly less likely to attend a postsecondary institution than non-low-income graduates unless they have participated in dual credit courses, which grant both high school and college credit.  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 white and minority Nebraskans remains high. For the 5-year period 2108 to 2022 measured by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 39.8% of white 22-64-year-olds had a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 22.2% of African Americans, 16.9% of Hispanics, and 12.1% of Native Americans. Asian and Pacific Islanders had the highest bachelor’s degree attainment at 48.3%. The report also finds that Nebraska is not making adequate progress toward the 70% educational attainment goal for 25- to 34-year-olds set by the Nebraska Legislature in 2022, with credential attainment falling from 58.8% in 2021 to 56.5% in 2022 as measured by the Lumina Foundation.  The report also finds that the net migration of Nebraskans aged 22 to 64 with a bachelor’s degree or high has accelerated during the five-year period 2018-2022.

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.