SCHEV: State needs to spend more to become ‘best-educated’ state
In 2014, Virginia set a goal to be the best-educated state by 2030, which requires that 70% of its working-age population will need a workforce credential or degree. A report released Friday by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia says the state will need to spend $400 million more annually to achieve that goal.
According to 2017 demographics, 53.9% of Virginians between the ages of 25 and 64 have a postsecondary school certification or degree, and numbers vary widely among race, income and region. In some areas of the state, more than 80% of the work-aged population have degrees, so many of the gains in the next decade must come from underrepresented regions and from low-income and minority populations.
Statewide, 68.4% of Asians and Pacific Islanders, 52.2% of whites, 34.4% of blacks and 33.1% of Hispanics have a postsecondary certificate or degree, according to “Strategic Finance Plan for Virginia,” prepared by Lumina Foundation’s Strategy Labs for SCHEV.
Virginia’s cost per degree year, at $19,400 (based on a 10-year average from 2006-2015), is lower than the national average of $23,350 — showing that the state’s students get a good return on investment. However, to close significant gaps in access and success, SCHEV estimates the state must allot $400 million more in additional annual expenditures to reach its 70% goal by 2030.
The report suggests that Virginia can align existing funding with completion priorities, increase college affordability and provide support to target populations, including Virginians older than traditional college age. After 2025, the number of 18- to 24-year-olds will decline, so the state’s colleges and universities will have to market themselves to older students, a relatively untapped opportunity according to the report.
The report acknowledges the importance of private institutions in Virginia, which granted more than 17,000 bachelor’s degrees, nearly 1,300 associate degrees and nearly 400 certificates in the 2017-18 school year, but focused on operations at state-funded colleges and universities.