The Coordinating Commission, at its December 1, 2017, meeting, reviewed a new 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 3rd best for its state and local tax support for public higher education per full-time equivalent student
- Nebraska ranks in 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, but comes in at 15th and 19th in the same measures for students from families in the lowest income quintile
- 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
- Nebraska ranks in the top 20 state for percentage of high school graduates going directly to college and 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.