Postsecondary Attainment: Where Indiana Stands and Needs to Go

NDIANAPOLIS -- New research outlines where Indiana stands in terms of people's educational achievement after high school, and highlights the value of credential programs for workers.

The report released by the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation shows that 49% of Indiana adults hold college degrees, certificates or industry certifications. That's just below the national average of 51%.

However, Courtney Brown, vice president for strategic impact for Lumina Foundation, notes there are major racial disparities.

"Hispanics in Indiana have almost a 20% attainment rate," she points out. "That's quite below the national average. And Blacks are only 30%, slightly above the national average. But it's still concerning when about 39% of whites have a degree."

Indiana ranks fifth-highest among states for people earning certifications, which Brown explains typically take less time and money to earn than degrees, and can improve job and income prospects.

Indiana's rate of overall educational attainment has risen by 15 percentage points since 2008.

Indiana is working on a postsecondary attainment goal of 60% of its residents having education beyond high school by 2025.

And Brown says the data by county in the report will be helpful to determine where talent is needed.

"A lot of them are metro, more densely populated," she explains. "The 'donut' counties around Indianapolis are much more likely to have higher levels of education than the more rural areas.

"Also, places where a higher education institution sits -- they're more likely to have higher attainment rates also."

The two counties with the highest levels of postsecondary attainment are Hamilton at 68%, and Boone at 59%.

The two lowest are LaGrange County at 16%, and Switzerland County at 18%.

Support for this reporting was made possible by Lumina Foundation.

Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN