Thursday, December 04, 2008

N.C. earns a 'B' when it comes to college affordability

"Most states are doing better preparing students for higher education than they did a decade ago, but that modest progress is eclipsed by rising tuition costs, enduring enrollment gaps between rich and poor, and a in global competitiveness," says Gannett.

"The situation could worsen if states don't do more to prepare high school students for college and make college more affordable and accessible to Americans of all backgrounds, according to the 'Measuring Up 2008' report from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education."

The good news for North Carolinians is that the state still continues to do a fairly good job of offering affordable college education, even if perhaps not doing as good a job as it has in the past.

“Family wealth and income, race and ethnicity, and geography play too great a role in determining which Americans receive a high school education that prepares them for college, which ones enroll in college, and which ones complete certificate or degree programs,” said James B. Hunt Jr., former North Carolina governor and chairman of the center's board.

The center graded states from A to F in five areas — college enrollment, college affordability, college completion rates, how well the states prepare high school students for college and percentage of residents who are college-educated.

North Carolina received its highest grade, a B- , in both completion and preparation. The proportion of eighth-graders scoring well in math has almost tripled over the past 15 years, and the state is a top performer in enrolling high school students in upper-level math.

In other positive news, three-quarters of high school students are taught by qualified teachers. And while 58 percent of college students complete a bachelor's degree within six years, 47 percent of African-Americans graduate within six years compared with 62 percent of whites.

The study also found that the likelihood of enrolling in college by 19 has increased by 25 percent since the 1990s.

The state received a C+ for benefits, an F for affordability and a D+ for participation. Every state got an F for affordability except California, which got a C-.

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