March-April Posts

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Guest Post: The Burgeoning State of Higher Education in Minnesota

Published: March 21, 2014

Minnesota is not only the land of 10,000 lakes, it is also home to nearly 200 colleges and universities and over 450,000 postsecondary students. When considering numbers this large, trends can be difficult to spot – especially when you consider the massive amounts of higher education data that is collected statewide and nationally.

A recent report prepared by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education provides meaning to this data. And, in doing so, indicates some positive trends with regard to college enrollment.

According to Minnesota Measures: 2014 Report on Higher Education, between 2003 and 2011 the percent of high school graduates who enrolled in a postsecondary institution within two years after graduation increased from 68 percent to 78 percent. Enrollment rates for the graduating class of 2012 will likely exceed 79 percent after enrollment data from 2013-2014 is included.

Sixty-eight percent of those students enrolled immediately, which the numbers show increases the likelihood of completion.

These numbers, coupled with the increased high school graduation rates just announced by the Minnesota Department of Education, are both positive indicators that Minnesota is making good progress on improving access to higher education.

Barriers to access remain, however, especially regarding closing the opportunity gap for students of color and first generation students, although we are seeing some improvement there as well. According to the latest data, enrollment of students of color has increased by 11 percent over the past ten years, from 13 percent to 24 percent.

Seventy-one percent of first-time, full-time undergraduates depend on grants and scholarships to pay for their education. Increasing enrollment numbers highlight the importance of the Minnesota State Grant, which provides need-based grants to over 100,000 Minnesotans, helping them avoid the burden of heavy debt that can come with rising tuition and decreased earnings. Last year, Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature made the most significant investment in direct student aid in a generation, increasing grant awards to every recipient and reaching higher into the middle-income range.

It will be important to continue this funding support to meet the needs of increasing numbers of lower- and middle-income students enrolling in postsecondary education.

Other noteworthy indicators include:

• Minnesota ranks second in the nation with the percentage of the population age 25-44 earning an associate degree or higher

• Seventy-three percent of students earning certificates or degrees in 2010-2011 were employed in Minnesota one year after graduation

• The number of academic awards earned annually by Minnesotans has increased 50 percent over the past decade

• Minnesota students continue to borrow more than the national average to pay for their education


Check out this great infographic on the report:

Also, here is the infographic in an interactive format.

The complete report is available on the OHE website.