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December 10, 2020

More colleges and universities increasing graduation rates toward Missouri’s Big Goal for higher education
MDHEWD serves 64,000+ students with financial aid in FY 2020


The Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development (MDHEWD) has been tracking progress toward the “Big Goal,” a pledge initially adopted in 2011 for 60 percent of working-age adults to hold a degree or certificate by 2025. An annual update was provided to the Coordinating Board for Higher Education during its Dec. 9 meeting.

Missouri’s colleges and universities are making significant progress toward achieving the Big Goal, by increasing completions and graduation rates. Minority graduation rates have also improved statewide over the past five years.

In 2019, 52.8 percent of Missourians held a certificate or degree. The percentage of Missourians with an associate degree or higher increased slightly, from 40.6 percent in 2018 to 41.0 percent in 2019.

Minority completions at public and comprehensive independent institutions were up 22.4 percent from 2013-14 through 2018-19 and 2.9 percent from academic years 2017-18 to 2018-19.

Additionally, many institutions have made significant advances in improving graduation rates. Seven public and comprehensive independent institutions have increased graduation rates by more than 10 percentage points in the last five years: the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Culver-Stockton College, Park University, East Central College, State Fair Community College, State Technical College of Missouri, and Three Rivers College.

Twenty other schools have seen increases of at least five percentage points, including: Avila University, College of the Ozarks, Crowder College, Evangel University, Fontbonne University, Hannibal-LaGrange University, Harris-Stowe State University, Jefferson College, Maryville University of Saint Louis, Metropolitan Community College, Mineral Area College, Missouri State University-West Plains, Moberly Area Community College, North Central Missouri College, Ozarks Technical Community College, Rockhurst University, St. Louis Community College, St. Louis University, St. Charles Community College, and William Woods University.

“We commend the work Missouri colleges and universities are doing to make tremendous strides toward Missouri’s Big Goal,” said Zora Mulligan, commissioner of higher education. “There is still plenty of room for improvement so we will continue to work with our institutions to increase enrollment and completion rates throughout the state.”

Progress toward the Big Goal is measured using survey data and annual estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau since the state’s overall educational attainment is driven by student completion at educational institutions, but also by in- and out-migration and Missourians aging in and out of the working population.

Learn more about Missouri’s Big Goal at https://dhewd.mo.gov/initiatives/MissourisBigGoal.php.

The Coordinating Board for Higher Education was also provided a copy of the Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development’s 2020 Annual Report. The report outlines work being done throughout the department to help students access and complete higher education programs. MDHEWD disbursed more than $134 million in state student financial aid to 64,846 students. The annual report also includes an update on student enrollment, student persistence, academic programs added or deleted, proprietary school certifications, and core budget recommendations. 

Find the full 2020 Annual Report at https://dhewd.mo.gov/about/2020AnnualReport.php and an infographic overview at https://dhewd.mo.gov/about/documents/Infographic_AnnualReport2020.pdf.

About the Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development: The department works to empower Missourians with the skills and education needed for success. More information about MDHEWD can be found at https://dhewd.mo.gov or on Facebook and Twitter @MoDHEWD.