Attainment Bump for RI

Signal of Community’s Shared Value of College Education

Rhode Island’s Postsecondary Education Commissioner Shannon Gilkey shared promising news with the Council on Postsecondary Education on April 17 about gains in the state’s degree attainment rate and overall college enrollment rates. As of March, 2024, the proportion of working-age Rhode Islanders (25-64 years old) with postsecondary degrees or credentials has risen 3.4% to 56.7% since last year at this time.

“It is rewarding to see the needle move in the direction of our goal,” said Dr. Gilkey. “Because seven out of 10 jobs in Rhode Island by 2030 will require degrees and postsecondary credentials, it is absolutely essential that we double down on our efforts to ensure that Rhode Islanders have the education and training needed to be eligible for jobs on the horizon.”

Dr. Gilkey also shared that OPC recently learned that relative to its population, Rhode Island ranked sixth in the nation for the highest rate of college-going individuals. The proportion of Rhode Islanders who are enrolled in college (5.24%) puts the Ocean State in the top 10 in the U.S., based on data available from the National Student Clearinghouse and SHEEO’s State Higher Education Finance (SHEF) data.

Said Dr. Gilkey, “One explanation may be our state’s investment per student in higher education. As we have seen with the establishment of the Promise Scholarship, the granting of financial aid to help finance education directly affects enrollment. I remain hopeful that the Hope Scholarship will yield similarly dramatic results for the overall baccalaureate degree attainment rate. The state’s investment in the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner’s Rhode Island Reconnect program to reduce the barriers that interfere with degree completion for adults will surely affect the enrollment and attainment rates. For the Council on Postsecondary Education, both news items on progress validates the council’s work to provide an excellent, accessible and affordable system of higher education that improves the educational attainment of the citizens of Rhode Island.”

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