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One in Four College Students are First Generation to Attend




Sandy Connolly
Minnesota Office of Higher Education
(651) 259-3902

Twenty-six percent of Minnesota undergraduates report that neither parent attended any college, according to a report released today by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. Another 31 percent of Minnesota college students reported that one or both parents had attended some college, but neither obtained a bachelor's degree.

The report, Minnesota Undergraduate Demographics, summarizes data from a 2004 survey by the U.S. Department of Education of students attending public and private colleges. The report further indicates that Minnesota's public two-year colleges enroll a disproportionately greater share of first-generation college students than four-year colleges and universities.

"It's a promising sign that students whose families have little experience with higher education are finding their way into college," said Susan Heegaard, Director of the Office of Higher Education. "For many students, community and technical colleges are serving as an important entry point."

The report provides new data on student enrollment including information about family characteristics, race and ethnicity, work patterns and income that has not previously been available. Student data is analyzed by institution type, including public two-year institutions, public four-year institutions and private not-for-profit institutions.

Other points of interest from the report include:

  • One-fifth of Minnesota undergraduates have dependent children.
  • 83 percent of students reported working during the school year.
  • 35 percent of undergraduate students are 24 or older.
  • 12 percent of students reported that one or both parents were born outside of the U.S.

While students in public two-year institutions represent 36 percent of undergraduates enrolled, 64 percent of all undergraduates reported having attended a community college at some point in their academic career. This suggests that many students utilize public two-year colleges as a stepping stone into higher education.

Minnesota Undergraduate Demographics is intended to provide Minnesota with a greater understanding of the demographic make-up of postsecondary students and provide summary data that can be used in evaluating the policies affecting the higher education sector.

The Minnesota Office of Higher Education is a state agency providing students with financial aid programs and information to help them gain access to postsecondary education. The agency administers the Minnesota State Grant program, which is among the five largest state need-based grant programs for students in the country. The agency also oversees tuition reciprocity programs, a student loan program, Minnesota's 529 college savings program, postsecondary licensing and an early awareness outreach initiative for youth.

The complete 37-page report, Minnesota Undergraduate Demographics, is available online.

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