Uphill battle for Idaho's goal of 60% college rate

Idaho almost dead last in college grad rates
Posted at 2:49 PM, Apr 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-07 18:18:55-04

New national numbers confirm something the State Board of Education already knows.

Idaho faces a tall order in reaching its vaunted “60 percent goal” for college completion.

State Board logo“We have work to do,” State Board spokesman Blake Youde said Wednesday morning. “It’s an affirmation of why we have this push.”

In 2014, only 37.7 percent of the state’s work force held a college degree or postsecondary certificate, according to a report issued last week by the Lumina Foundation, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit.

That’s a far cry from the State Board’s “60 percent goal,” unveiled in 2010 and embraced by many of the Idaho’s business and political leaders. The State Board wants 60 percent of the state’s 25- to 34-year-olds to hold some form of degree or certificate.

However, the state’s college completion rate now sits at 40 percent, down from 42 percent in 2014. While the 2016 Legislature passed a nonbinding resolution reaffirming support for the 60 percent goal, lawmakers conceded the goal is ambitious.

The new Lumina numbers do not cast doubt on the ultimate 60 percent goal, Youde said. And Lumina’s 37.7 percent figure is “fairly consistent” with the state’s 40 percent estimate, he said.

The state numbers focus only on 25- to 34-year-olds, a subset that represents Idaho’s future work force. Because there has already been more of a push for postsecondary education in recent years, it’s reasonable to expect a higher completion rate among 25- to 34-year-olds, Youde said.

Click here for our story on the Lumina Foundation report.