The most important indicator of whether or not a student will succeed in college is family income. Little progress has been made in the past forty years – graduation rate for students from the lowest income quartile is still only 12%.

Pell Institute, Indicators of Higher Education Equity


College affordability

  • 11% of low income, first generation, students of color graduate from college in the U.S. (Pell Institute).
  • 58% of students from families in the top income quartile earn a college degree, as compared to only 12% of students from families in the lowest income quartile (University of Pennsylvania and Pell Institute).
  • Completing college is the key. Students who do not graduate are more likely to be unemployed or underemployed, and are more likely to default on their student loans (Minnesota Measures Report).
  • Over the past 25 years, consumer prices have risen by 115%, but over the same period of time the cost of attending college has increased nearly 500% for a typical student (U.S. Labor Department).
  • Americans owe $1.2 trillion in student loan debt, an amount that has tripled in the last decade; average student loan debt in Minnesota is above $30,000 (The Institute for College Access & Success).

Talent Gap

  • By 2020, 74% of all jobs in Minnesota will require post-secondary training (Georgetown Public Policy Institute).
  • The U.S. will fall short by 5 million workers with post-secondary education—at the current production rate—by 2020 (ibid).

More Data