Diving into the Texas Higher Education Almanac – What Do the Numbers Tell Us?

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) recently released its 10th annual Texas Public Higher Education Almanac. It includes national, statewide, and institution-specific data in several key areas, including student demographics, educational attainment, and institutional information.

The Almanac helps measure the state’s progress toward its strategic plan for higher education. Known as 60x30TX, the strategic plan focuses on student success and establishing a globally competitive workforce. It sets a goal of reaching  60% postsecondary attainment for young adult Texans by 2030.

As the Almanac shows, we have a long way to go: in 2018, only 43.6% of Texans ages 25–34 had a postsecondary degree or certificate. Central Texas and the Metroplex held the highest attainment rates regionally, at 50.4% and 47.1% respectively.

Further, only 51.6% of high school graduates in 2018 are enrolling in higher education — and 38.4% of students entering Texas’s public higher institutions are rated as not college ready. And nationally, Texas ranks in the bottom half of all states in areas in which we’d clearly like to be leading:

We’re 36th for population between the ages 25-34 with an Associate’s degree or higher (39.1%).

We’re 32nd in people with a Bachelor’s degree or higher (31.3%).

Texas ranks 31st nationally for students at 4-year institutions graduating within six years, with an average of 55.0% compared to the national average of 60.8%.

And looking at K-12 education, Texas ranks 42nd for reading and writing on SAT scores, and 39th for math.

Further, student debt has been steadily increasing, due in part to rising tuition and fees and decreasing state appropriations. Texas ranks 23rd nationally for tuition rates at four-year institutions.

Since 2003, net tuition and fees have increased 66%, while state appropriations decreased 26%. That has led to an average debt of $25,374 for students when they graduate from a public intuition here.

Those numbers are even more stark when broken down by race and wage levels right out of school: as a percentage of first-year wages, loan debt for graduates of four-year institutions is 93% for Black Texans, 58% for white Texans, and 57% for Hispanic Texans. Further, of the 291,175 students who received a certificate, Associate’s degree, or Bachelor’s degree from an institution of higher education in 2019, 38% were Hispanic, and 12% were Black, and 61.6% were at-risk (bachelor’s degree only).

All told, the Almanac provides a great look at where Texas is and how much potential our state has to be the best place in the country to live and work. But it’s also a reminder of how far we need to go. Texas 2036 is dedicated to generating data-driven solutions and support to get us there.