An Introduction to RI's College Access and Persistence Programs

Essential Question:
What do we know about historically underserved populations on RI public college campuses and recent efforts to support them?

To improve higher education degree completion rates, the Rhode Island Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner (RIOPC) has launched three new programs that partner with existing college access efforts. To view a presentation of the highlights of this story, click here.

To become economically stronger, RI needs more college graduates

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Estimates regarding the foreseeable future's need for postsecondary degrees hover at 60%. RI is almost 17 percentage points shy of this goal.

Nationally, RI's neighbor, Massachusetts, has the highest proportion of postsecondary degree attainment. And even that state is almost 10 percentage points below the estimated need. MA has led the nation in K-12 achievement for the last decade and is home to a wealth of higher educational institutions. While that state also struggles to reach adequate college access and completion rates, it launched the Vision Project to aggressively increase postsecondary degree attainment.

Particularly worrisome for Rhode Island is that the proportion of all adults with degrees is the same as those of young adults (43%), ages 25 to 34, who are the best indicator of the state’s future workforce. Helping those older than 30 to finish their degrees is important, but systematically boosting the degree-completion rates among young people will yield the most robust long-term results.

The Lumina Foundation's report A Stronger Nation Through Higher Education explores the estimated need for future postsecondary degree attainment and how states currently measure up.

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