The Alabama Commission on Higher Education has produced a new set of data that gives a more complete picture of the college-going rate statewide and for individual high schools. According to the data, of the 45,760 students who graduated in the spring of 2014:
– 33 percent enrolled in two-year colleges
– 32 percent enrolled in four-year colleges and universities
– 35 percent of graduates did not enroll in higher education in the year after their graduation
Historically, ACHE, the state’s coordinating agency for higher education, has surveyed Alabama public colleges, both two-year and four-year, in order to determine the number of Alabama public high school graduates who enrolled in college the year following their high school graduation. In determining college-going rates, that data had limitations because it only tracked those students who enrolled in Alabama public colleges. Students who went to private schools or went out of state were not counted.
Now, drawing from data compiled by the National Student Clearinghouse, ACHE can follow the enrollment of all public high school graduates whether they go to public or private schools after graduation, both in-state and out of state. The new data that gives a more complete picture of college-going rates.
That data is presented in the interactive charts below.
Plan 2020, Alabama’s strategic plan for public education, sets a goal of having 90 percent of students graduate on time and that those students who do graduate are ready for college and/or career. To some extent, this college-going rate is a reflection of how well schools are doing at producing graduates who are ready to go into higher education. However, it is very important to realize that college-going is highly correlated with a student’s socio-economic status. High schools that have a more affluent student population will see a much higher percentage of their students proceed directly into college. Schools that work with more low-income students will have a lower college-going rate.
Regardless of their demographic makeup, all schools and systems should be looking for ways to promote college access for their graduates. A study published this month by the Pew Research Center found that the middle class is shrinking as a percentage of the population. According to Pew’s analysis of government data, education levels are a key factor in an individual’s economic prosperity. Individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher are experiencing economic gains, with and increasing share of them moving into upper-income brackets. On the other hand, those without a college degree are slipping farther behind.
Along with the broad effort by public schools to improve students’ preparation for college, there are also targeted efforts underway to increase college-going rates by better connecting students with the resources they need to pay for college. To access financial aid available to help pay for college, students must fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA form is notoriously difficult to complete, but successful completion of the form greatly increases the chances a student will enter college. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 90 percent of students who complete a FAFSA form attend college the following fall. Cash For College is a statewide FAFSA completion campaign coordinated by Alabama Possible, a non-profit working to combat poverty. Alabama Possible is working with the Alabama State Department of Education, local schools, and higher education institutions to boost FAFSA completion. The organization provides tools, data, and strategic approaches that schools can use to boost FAFSA completion rates, with an end goal of helping more students enter and pay for college.
Cash For College is a statewide FAFSA completion campaign coordinated by Alabama Possible, a non-profit working to combat poverty. Alabama Possible is working with the Alabama State Department of Education, local schools, and higher education institutions to boost FAFSA completion. The organization provides tools, data, and strategic approaches that schools can use to boost FAFSA completion rates, with an end goal of helping more students enter and pay for college. Information on how to participate is available on the Alabama Possible website.
The charts below allow you to examine the rate of college-going by county, by system, and by individual school. The charts allow you to look at the percentage of students who enroll in four-year schools, two-year schools, and the percentage of graduates who haven’t enrolled. This set of data looks at the high school students who graduated in the spring of 2014. The National Student Clearinghouse database was then checked in July of 2015 to determine whether those high school graduates had enrolled in higher education the year following their graduation.