'Graduate Minnesota' campaign urges former students to re-enroll and earn degrees

Release Date: October 31, 2011

Initiative seeks to raise state’s college completion rates

Minnesota’s working adults who have earned some college credits are being urged to re-enroll and complete their two- or four-year degrees at the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities to boost their job prospects and help meet the state’s workforce needs.

The message is part of a new statewide outreach initiative called “Graduate Minnesota – Complete your degree. Anytime. Anywhere.” The initiative is designed to connect former students with advisers who can help them find the best and fastest route to complete their associate or bachelor’s degree.

“We must leverage the talents of the state’s 800,000 or so adults who have completed some college but have no degree,” said Steven Rosenstone, chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.  “Many former students have earned a significant number of credits and may be closer than they think to earning a degree. Our colleges and universities can help them complete their degrees, compete for better jobs and deliver to Minnesota’s employers the educated workers and professionals needed for our state to remain competitive.”

Each of the 31 state colleges and universities has at least one designated adviser to assist students in figuring out how to resume their studies and explore financial aid options.  Returning students might be especially interested in taking online courses, enrolling in accelerated programs with flexible start dates and receiving course credits for work experience. To connect with an adviser, interested individuals can call a toll-free number, 1-800-366-7380, seven days a week or visit graduateminnesota.org.

Currently, only 40 percent of working-age adults in Minnesota have a postsecondary degree, such as an associate or bachelor’s degree.  A recent study by Georgetown University researchers predicted that 70 percent of the jobs in Minnesota will require education beyond high school by 2018.  And projections show that the economic recovery will depend largely on new jobs that require higher levels of skills than many workers currently have.

Also, a postsecondary education can boost lifetime earnings. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a person with an associate degree makes, on average, about $10,000 a year more than a person with only a high school diploma.  And a graduate with a bachelor’s degree makes, on average, $29,000 a year more than someone with only a high school diploma.

In addition, college graduates are less likely to be unemployed. In 2010, people with only a high school diploma had a 10.3 percent unemployment rate, compared to 7 percent for those with associate degrees and 5.4 percent for people with bachelor’s degrees.

The Graduate Minnesota campaign features 30-second radio spots airing throughout the state and letters sent to more than 20,000 individuals who recently attended a Minnesota state college or university but did not earn a degree.

The University of Minnesota has partnered with Minnesota State Colleges and Universities to ensure former students from either system can access resources and information at the shared website and call center.

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Foundation received funding from the Lumina Foundation for Education for the initiative. The foundation’s goal is to increase the proportion of Americans with degrees or credentials to 60 percent by 2025 from the current 40 percent.

Minnesota’s 31 state community and technical colleges, and universities serve more than 420,000 students in credit and noncredit courses across the state.