Postsecondary education and training is now more important than ever for individual success and societal progress. Investments in higher education provide significant returns in employment levels, financial earnings, tax revenues, health, upward mobility, and overall well-being. Current projections indicate that demand for educated workers in Nebraska is projected to outpace current rates of educational attainment. There are significant barriers to pursuing higher education, leaving behind a surplus of untapped potential in our state’s youth.
A postsecondary degree has become essential for obtaining quality employment, but the cost of higher education, and the consumer share of this cost, has skyrocketed. This has resulted in a significant increase in student debt and put higher education out of reach for many. Economic circumstances have some of the most pervasive impact on college readiness and success. Studies have found a strong relationship between a family’s economic circumstances and school achievement, physical and emotional well-being, college planning, behavioral health, and academic expectations.
In recent years a variety of interventions have been explored across the country. These approaches have sought to bridge the gap between college aspirations and expectations for low-income students and to address the issue of affordability in higher education. This issue brief explores increasing college savings as a promising model for encouraging more lower income students to pursue higher education and helping to ensure that Nebraska has a workforce that meets our future needs.