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Growing Number of Minnesota High School Graduates Enrolling in College


Contact: Sandy Connolly, Director of Communications
Office of Higher Education
(651) 259-3902

St. Paul, MN--The number of Minnesota high school graduates enrolling in postsecondary education is on the rise, according to a recent report prepared by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE).

The annual report, Minnesota Measures: 2014 Report on Higher Education Performance indicates that between 2003 and 2011 the percent of high school graduates who enrolled 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 data shows increases the likelihood of completion.

Commissioner Larry Pogemiller said a 79 percent college participation rate within two years of graduation is excellent news, and the fact that most of those students began school the fall following graduation will also likely bolster completion rates.

"These numbers, coupled with the increased high school graduation rates just announced, are both positive indicators that Minnesota is making good progress on improving access to higher education," said Pogemiller. "Obviously, challenges remain, especially with regard to 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.

The report indicates that 71 percent of first-time, full-time undergraduates depend on grants and scholarships to pay for their education. Pogemiller said the increasing enrollment numbers of recent graduates highlight the importance of the Minnesota State Grant, which provides need-based grants to over 100,000 Minnesotans.

"State Grants help students avoid the burden of heavy debt that can come with significant tuition increases and decreased earnings," said Pogemiller. "Last year, Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature made the most significant investment in direct student aid in a generation, a significant step in calibrating grant aid to the genuine cost of attending quality institutions.

"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

This year, OHE created an infographic to highlight some of the main findings.

The complete report is available on the OHE website.

Minnesota Measures: 2014 Report on Higher Education Performance is part of the accountability work assigned to OHE in 2005. Since that time, Minnesota Measures has provided policymakers and educators with a comprehensive look at the state of higher education in our state.

For more information, contact Sandy Connolly at 651-259-3902 or by email at

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