A report released today highlights the need for more Iowans to seek education beyond high school. Heather Doe is a spokesperson for the Iowa College Student Aid Commission, which issued the “Condition of Higher Education in Iowa 2014 “ report. “Thirty-six-percent or so of Iowa’s working-age population holds an associate’s degree or higher, however, we have projections that about 62-percent of all the jobs in the state will require some type of postsecondary education,” Doe said. The 62-percent figure is projected by 2018.
The report also outlines increases in college costs in Iowa, which Doe calls “very striking.” “You can see that the college costs at our regent universities, our private colleges, and our community colleges…those increases over the past 20 years are significantly higher than increases in median household income,” Doe said. In addition, the increases in college costs have far outpaced appropriations for state financial aid programs.
The report also raises concerns about the college readiness of Iowa’s high school students, based on ACT data. “We have a significant portion of students who take the ACT who don’t meet one of ACT’s four college readiness benchmarks and 20-percent aren’t meeting any benchmarks whatsoever,” Doe said. Those figures can negatively impact first-year retention rates and the number of remedial courses students may need to take in college.
Ultimately, those factors may lead to more student debt, according to Doe. She notes Iowa is already among the top states in the country with a high percentage of residents carrying student loan debt.
Doe says the report shows just 36-percent of Iowa’s working-age population holds an associate’s degree or higher, yet it’s projected 62-percent of all jobs in the state will require postsecondary education by 2018. Doe says one out of five high school students who take the ACT are failing to meet all four college readiness benchmarks set by the exam.