Low graduation rates, high tuition and a disconcerting achievement gap at Minnesota colleges and universities, especially among minorities, are revealed in a new study.
Minnesotans pay twice as much as the national average to get a public college education, but they’re not getting double the results.
Fewer than 40 percent of students at Minnesota’s colleges and universities graduate in four years, according to a report released this week by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. In addition, students of color have less than a 50-50 chance of graduating at all.
For a state where high school students traditionally fare well on college entrance exams, that’s disconcerting to those in charge of assessing the quality of higher education in Minnesota.
“Part of our concern is that we start out so high, and then once the students get into school, our results tend to be really national average,” said Susan Heegaard, director of the Office of Higher Education. “The question for Minnesota as a state is, ‘Is this where we want to be?’ If we want to compete nationally and internationally, our argument is that we need to do better than average.”
Slow to graduate: For high school students who entered a four-year school in the fall of 2000, only 36.7 percent of them graduated in four years and 57.5 percent graduated in six years. Only five of the state’s 36 four-year schools — public or private — had a four year graduation rate of better than 70 percent.
Rates are particularly low at schools in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. According to the report, only 20.6 percent of MnSCU students graduated in four years, and fewer than half had graduated after six years.
Minnesota Higher Education Accountability Report.