Indiana’s Journey Towards Higher Education Attainment

Indiana has long been committed to the pursuit of higher education, but recent data from the Lumina Foundation reveals that there’s still work to be done to meet the state’s ambitious goals. In an annual report titled “A Stronger Nation,” the foundation sheds light on Indiana’s progress and challenges in achieving postsecondary degree and credential attainment.


As of the latest report, Indiana’s rate of post-high school education stands at 54 percent, a figure that mirrors the national average. However, this falls short of the target set by state leaders back in 2012, aiming for 60 percent attainment by 2025. While Indiana has seen a commendable increase of 20.3 percentage points since 2009, there’s a pressing need to accelerate progress to meet the established goal.


The report underscores the importance of not only maintaining current rates of attainment but also significantly increasing enrollment in postsecondary programs and earning various types of credentials beyond high school. This involves a concerted effort to address barriers and expand opportunities for individuals across the state.


Nationally, the overall attainment rate has seen a modest increase of 16 percentage points since 2009, with the latest figure hovering just under 54 percent. However, when short-term credentials such as certificates are excluded, the national rate drops to around 45 percent. This highlights the importance of recognizing and valuing diverse educational pathways that lead to meaningful employment and career advancement.


Despite progress, significant disparities persist among racial and ethnic groups. While there has been growth in degree attainment across all demographics, substantial gaps remain. The attainment rate for Black adults stands at approximately 35 percent, and for Hispanic adults, it’s even lower at 29 percent. In contrast, White adults are earning degrees at a higher rate of 50 percent.


Courtney Brown, the lead researcher on the report, emphasizes the shared goal of increasing attainment to 60 percent to ensure that the population possesses the skills and knowledge needed for success. While there has been remarkable progress, stubborn equity gaps continue to pose challenges that require targeted interventions and systemic changes.


The Lumina Foundation’s report serves as a call to action for Indiana and the nation as a whole to redouble efforts in advancing higher education attainment. By addressing disparities, expanding access, and fostering inclusive learning environments, we can build a more prosperous future for all. It’s time to unite in our commitment to educational equity and opportunity.


Central Indiana businesses searching for resources to support the state’s education to workforce trajectory are encouraged to visit the BEI website and explore the Get Involved page.

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