The Coordinating Commission, at its December 6, 2018, meeting, reviewed its third annual report on how well Nebraska and its public postsecondary institutions are meeting the goals laid out in the Commission’s Comprehensive Statewide Plan for Postsecondary Education. Adoption and periodic revision of the plan, which is intended to achieve the best possible use of state resources for high quality and accessible postsecondary education, are constitutional duties of the Commission. When the Commission updated the Comprehensive Plan in 2016, it adopted goals of being among the top ten states for college preparation, enrollment, graduation, affordability, educational attainment, and closing achievement gaps. The plan also includes goals that the state’s public colleges and university campuses perform above the averages of their Commission-designated peer groups in terms of on-time degree completion, overall degree completion, affordability, external research funding, and efficiency.
The report indicates that Nebraska is a top performer in several areas but still has work to do to achieve the state’s goals:
- Nebraska ranks 4th for its high school graduation rate and 6th for the percentage of ACT-tested high school graduates who met or exceeded all four ACT college readiness benchmarks
- Nebraska ranks 6th best for its state and local tax support for public higher education per full-time equivalent student
- Nebraska has fallen out of the top ten for lowest percentage of family income needed to pay for full-time enrollment in two-year and four-year colleges for median-family-income students (to 13th and 12th, respectively), but has improved in the same measures for students from families in the lowest income quintile (to 13th and 18th)
- For adults ages 25-34, Nebraska ranks 11th for the percentage who have at least an associate’s degree and 14th for those who have a bachelor’s degree or higher, and has improved to 13th for the percentage of 25 to 64 year olds with an associate’s degree or higher
- Nebraska has slipped from 18th to 26th for percentage of high school graduates going directly to college
- Nebraska ranks 18th for students who start at a public college or university and complete a credential within six years
- Nebraska is in the bottom 25 states for students who complete a bachelor’s degree in four years and for state-funded, need-based financial aid per full-time equivalent student
At the campus level, Nebraska’s public colleges and university campuses generally perform well compared to their peer institutions and meet the Comprehensive Plan’s goals. High points include six-year graduation rates for both first-time and transfer students and state and local tax support for the institutions, which shows up in lower net tuition than at most peer institutions. Room for improvement was noted for on-time bachelor’s degree completion.