Board of Regents endorses new statewide educational attainment goal

LINCOLN – The University of Nebraska Board of Regents has given its unanimous support to a new statewide initiative to increase the share of Nebraskans who hold postsecondary credentials.

At its June 23 meeting, the board approved a resolution endorsing the goals outlined in Legislative Resolution 335, passed this spring by the Nebraska Legislature. LR335 calls for 70% of Nebraskans ages 25 to 34 to hold postsecondary credentials by 2030, up from 58% today.

“We’ve heard again and again from business leaders that more workforce is their greatest need. And we know that the majority of jobs of the future will require education beyond high school,” said Board of Regents Chairman Bob Phares of North Platte. “The University of Nebraska is the largest producer of workforce in our state – yet we know we need to do even more to ensure a skilled, vibrant, competitive economy for the future.

“We thank Chairwoman Lynne Walz and members of the Education Committee for their leadership in setting a bold goal for growth and success. The University of Nebraska looks forward to working closely with policymakers, our education colleagues and other partners on this important statewide effort.”

Implementing strategies to achieve the new attainment goal is a key component of NU System President Ted Carter’s updated strategic plan. Carter noted that increasing the number of Nebraskans who hold a four-year degree will be particularly important to addressing the state’s workforce needs. He credited the chancellors for their focus on addressing shortages in Nebraska’s health care, teaching and STEM workforce, among other areas.

Furthermore, Carter said the university will focus on the following:

  • Maintaining affordable tuition to ensure access for students and families. Tuition will be frozen in 2022-23 – the second straight across-the-board freeze – under a budget recently approved by regents.
  • Investing in financial aid so students are not priced out of a university education, with a particular emphasis on expanding access for first-generation, low-income and underserved students. The university recently expanded its Nebraska Promise program to provide tuition-free education to qualifying Nebraska students with family incomes of $65,000 or less.
  • Emphasizing timely degree completion to help students minimize their debt and enter the workforce sooner, including through the university’s four-year graduation guarantee.
  • Using online learning to reach more students, including rural students, military learners, working adults and others.
  • Developing new strategies to reach the 300,000-plus Nebraskans who have some college credits but have not completed their degrees.