Improve equity and individual opportunity.
Is Vermont an Education State?
Currently Vermont enjoys one of the highest high school graduation rates in the country, and the percentage of college degree holders (45%) is higher than the national average (40%).
However, Vermont has not yet taken the significant steps needed to increase the educational level of its youngest adults. Doing so is essential for Vermont to remain competitive locally and globally.
One area of concern for Vermont is the inequity in college-going rates for low-income, first-generation Vermont high school students. Within New England, Vermont has the lowest overall rate of college enrollment (about 60% of high school graduates),5 and the lowest rate among economically disadvantaged students (37.3%).6
1,795 (26%) of Vermont’s Class of 2012 high school graduates had aspirations to go to college, but did not do so.7
Address urgent workforce and economic development needs
Vermonters and the Economy in the Next Decade
Nationally, 4 out of 5 jobs lost during the Great Recession were held by Americans with a high school education or less. As soon as 2020, ⅔ of jobs will require some form of postsecondary education, and employers in advanced manufacturing and healthcare sectors in particular are reporting shortages of qualified workers.1
Across the country, states are recognizing the need to set ambitious, realistic goals for postsecondary education specific to individual state contexts and needs. These goals range from 80% in Oregon, 55% in Tennessee, 65% in New Hampshire, and 60% in Texas.
A healthy 21st-century economy depends on a well-educated workforce. To remain vibrant, Vermont must fully develop the potential of all of its citizens, as the individual and social benefits of higher education are clear. The risks of inaction are equally great: based on current trends, Vermont’s projected loss in educated workers will in turn generate a net loss of over $20 million from decreased state tax revenues and increased Medicaid and corrections spending.2
Secure the public benefits of an educated citizenry for Vermont’s future
Over 60,000 Vermonters have some college education but no degree.¹ At most, only half may have a credential of value.
Over the past 30 years, the gap between the “haves” and “have nots” in Vermont and the nation has increased significantly. Despite Vermont’s economic recovery from the recession of 2009, since then poverty rates, homelessness, and reliance on food stamps have all increased.³ While a higher percentage of Vermont women hold bachelor’s degrees than men, wage gaps for women persist at all levels of education, most significantly impacting single working mothers with young children, 37% of whom live in poverty.⁴