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Modest Gains but Gaps Persist In Annual Attainment Report


News Release
January 22, 2019
Contact:  Sandy Connolly (651) 259-3902

Minnesota is making progress towards its higher education attainment goal but significant gaps for people of color and American Indian citizens persist, according to new data released today by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE).

In 2015, the Minnesota Legislature enacted a state postsecondary educational attainment goal that 70 percent of Minnesota adults (age 25 to 44) will have attained a postsecondary certificate or degree by 2025. Each year, data collected by OHE, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and the Minnesota Demographic Center combine to provide estimates of postsecondary attainment.

Key findings of Educating for the Future 2018, include:

  • The overall attainment rate has increased slightly from last year, from 60.7 percent to 61.4 percent
  • At 66.8 percent, White Minnesotans have the highest level of attainment
  • American Indian and Latinx Minnesotan’s have the lowest educational attainment rates at 24.2 and 27.5 percent, respectively
  • 121,425 additional postsecondary credentials (certificates and beyond) are needed to reach the 70 percent educational attainment goal

“Any forward progress is positive, but the stark reality is that too many students are being left behind when it comes to college completion,” said Commissioner Dennis Olson, MN Office of Higher Education. “As a state, we must continue to focus our efforts on bringing every student to this 70 percent benchmark.”

In addition to tracking progress, the report identifies four factors that influence educational attainment. All four categories show persistent gaps for students of color and American Indian students, adding evidence that a college attainment gap can only be closed by working across the educational continuum.

The four factors include:

  • High school completion
  • College enrollment
  • College persistence or retention
  • College completion

In all four areas, students of color and American Indian students lag behind their White counterparts, in some areas by nearly 30 percentage points.

By 2025, one in three children enrolled in Minnesota’s educational pipeline will be Latinx, Black, American Indian or Asian.  Based on these projections, 71 percent of all future postsecondary credentials must come from racial and ethnic minorities or the state will not reach the 70 percent educational attainment goal.

“Meeting racial disparities head-on to close attainment gaps is one of the most pressing challenges facing the state of Minnesota, both for our economic security and for the well-being of our communities of color and American Indian communities,” said Olson.

The full report, Educating for the Future 2018, can be found here:

An Educational Attainment Stakeholder Group meets quarterly at OHE to discuss the state’s progress on the educational attainment metrics.  This group of stakeholders, which includes community partners, non-profits, education, government, and college and university leaders meets quarterly to discuss best practices and ways in which we can collaborative tackle the postsecondary inequities in the state. This year the stakeholders group will undertake a key indicators analysis of the educational continuum to understand at what points students are being derailed off their educational paths.

If you are interested in learning more about this group, or have questions about Educating the Future 2018, contact Alex Hermida, at

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