Minnesota’s rate of students graduating from high school reached its highest point ever in 2016, but there’s been a slight decrease in the number who go on to college.
That’s according to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, which found that the number of students who enrolled in college in the fall immediately after graduation slipped from 72 percent in 2013 to just below 70 percent in 2016. The number is still up from 2009, when 66 percent of students in the state went on to college.
Numbers have remained relatively flat overall, said Larry Pogemiller, commissioner of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. Pogemiller credited the improved economy as a factor in the dip.
“If there are a lot of jobs, people tend not to go immediately to college,” Pogemiller said Friday.
The Minnesota Department of Education recorded the highest overall rate of graduating seniors in 2016, with 82.2 percent of students graduating. That same year, the number of black students graduating climbed by 3 percent.
State higher education officials noticed a small uptick in students of color enrolling to college the fall after graduation. The number of black students remained flat while the percentage of enrolled Hispanic students jumped from 45.2 percent in 2009 to 55.3 percent in 2016.
White students still enroll in higher education at a larger percentage than their peers.
“We are getting more students of color into college,” and immediately after high school when it’s most affordable, said Meredith Fergus, manager of financial aid research for the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. “Life is going to kick in and it will be harder for them to go later.”
All groups saw a decline when calculating the number of students of color who enrolled in college two years after graduation. Black students dropped from 72.3 percent in 2015 to 66.8 percent in 2016. Hispanic students dropped by about five points.
The number of students enrolled in college anytime after graduation dropped from 75 percent in 2009 to 72 percent in 2016.
The Office of Higher Education used data from the National Student Clearing House to prepare its reports. Fergus said the department supplies the data to state high schools for them to keep track of their student populations, see where their students attend college and know if they completed college.
Fergus found that 84 percent of the class of 2010 enrolled in college by age 23 and 85 percent of 2011 enrolled by age 24. While students may make it to college, making it to college graduation becomes another hurdle.
One in four Minnesota students do not graduate from college, Fergus said.
The higher education report offers insight into each high school in the state. Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis had 61 percent of its students in 2016 enroll in college with the majority of students attending Minneapolis Community and Technical College.
“Minneapolis Public Schools has increased its graduation rate more than 20 percent over the last 6 years,” the school district said in a statement. “We’re proud of this increase, and our goal is to ensure MPS students graduate ready for both college and career.”