- Associated Press - Saturday, November 22, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A state board has made strides in its efforts to increase the percentage of Texas residents who have graduated from college, but it has work to do if 60 percent of residents are going to have earned at least associate degrees by 2030, according to a published report Saturday.

The Austin American Statesman says (https://bit.ly/11OfNHJ ) the number of Texans enrolled in colleges and universities is rising thanks to 2000-2015 plans implemented by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. But the rate has failed to keep pace with the state’s booming population.

“We have a lot of population growth . which both helps us and in some cases hurts us,” said Steve Murdock, a Rice University sociology professor and former director of the U.S. Census Bureau.

About 38 percent of Texans between 25 and 34 years old now have an associate degree or higher, five percentage points lower than the overall U.S. population. Over the next 15 years, the board would like to see the percentage of state residents earning at least an associate degree climb to 60 percent.

The coordinating board says that, by next year, many of its 2015 benchmarks will have been met. It wants 5.7 percent of the total population enrolled in a state college or university. Texas’ enrollment rates overall and among blacks exceeded 5.7 percent as of fall 2013, but Hispanics continue to lag - which officials attribute in part to how fast the state’s Hispanic population is growing.

Still, Hispanic graduation rates exceeded the 2015 goal three years early.

At a Friday conference in Austin, board members discussed new goals for 2030.

Plans include beginning dual high school and college credit programs in the 9th grade and encouraging students to leave home for college. The board also hopes Texas can give adults more continuing-education options through online courses.

By 2030, the board would like to see undergraduate student loan top out below 60 percent of average first-year wages for graduates of Texas public colleges and universities.

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Information from: Austin American-Statesman, https://www.statesman.com

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