On March 16th, the Higher Education Compact released its 5th annual Dashboard report. The Dashboard tracks Cleveland’s progress towards reaching more than a dozen indicators related to student readiness for college, access to college and persistence at two year or four year postsecondary institutions.
Key attainment trends outlined in the report:
- The Cleveland Metropolitan School District [CMSD] is graduating more students. The class of 2016 had a 69 percent graduation rate, a 13 percentage point increase over the last 5 years.
- There are more students in our community graduating from two and four-year colleges and universities than there were when the Compact started. The three-year completion rate from two year institutions and the six-year rate from four year institutions have increased by four and five percentage points, respectively, in the last five years.
- On-time graduation rates (completing a four-year degree in four years) has increased dramatically in the last five years, by 16 percentage points.
The report also details a notable decline in the percent of students who enrolled in a two-year or four-year degree program within a year of graduating from CMSD. Only 51% of the class of 2015 enrolled in college within a year of graduating compared to 56% of the class of 2014. The Dashboard goal is 66% postsecondary enrollment by 2017. This downward trend is alarming as by 2025, 64% of jobs in Ohio will require some postsecondary degree or credential.
One reason for the decline in enrollment is the cost of postsecondary education. The perceived cost (the sticker price) can prevent students from applying to college while the actual cost (net price) can prevent students from enrolling at all or enrolling at their institution of choice. According to the Ohio College Affordability Diagnosis, Ohio ranks 45th out of 50 states on college affordability. Ohio falls behind the nation and its Midwestern peers on several key college affordability indicators including the state’s investment in postsecondary education, average net price of college, and the availability of need-based aid.
To address this barrier, the Higher Education Compact is working with a statewide consortium to advocate for more need-based aid and incentivize student completion.