Utah ranked #2 Best State for Higher Ed, but completion rate leaves room for improvement

Utah was named the #2 Best State for Higher Education by US News and World Report in their new rankings last month. This was determined by looking at a variety of factors, such as debt load, graduation rate, and cost. Utah also ranked as the 9th Best State for Education overall, which included both higher ed and PreK-12 rankings.

Utah ranked 1st in the nation for low student debt upon graduation. In fact, Utah leaves the smallest debt burden on its college graduates, averaging less than $19,000 per student. Utah also ranked 4th for cost of tuition and fees, which speaks to the efforts made by the Board of Regents and institutional presidents to keep tuition low so that college remains accessible for all Utahns.

Despite these impressive rankings, Utah ranked 43rd for the four-year college graduation rate. Improving college graduation rates is an ongoing priority of the Board of Regents.

For Utah high school graduates who enroll in college, only 53% earn a degree or certificate within eight years. This number drops drastically for low-income students, those with limited English proficiency, and certain minority populations.

8-Year College Completion Rate by Gender, Income Level, and English Proficiency

8-Year College Completion Rate by Ethnicity

Improving college completion in Utah

Timely Completion is one of the three objectives the Board of Regents decided to focus on for their ten-year strategic plan. Increasing the number of students successfully completing college is key to meeting statewide goals and ensuring Utah has the workforce it needs to remain successful. Corequisite remediation, degree maps, adult learners, and the Critical Course Completion Project are areas the Commissioner’s office is focusing on to help increase Utah’s college completion rates.