During an economic downturn, a high-quality postsecondary credential matters more than ever, but colleges struggle to sustain per-student funding without raising tuition.
A high-quality postsecondary credential matters now more than ever.
Ready for careers: Postsecondary certificates, diplomas, and degrees are essential to meeting the demands of Tennessee’s changing workforce. Over the last decade, the portion of Tennesseans with a postsecondary credential increased from 38 percent to 43 percent.1 This progress, however, is still not enough to meet the needs of the state’s workforce.2 Tennessee’s colleges of applied technology (TCATs), community colleges, and universities must continue supporting all students as they pursue high-quality credentials to help prepare them to succeed in tomorrow’s economy.
Ready to advance: The average college graduate earns more over a lifetime than a high school graduate nationwide and in Tennessee.3 A postsecondary credential – whether an industry certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree – is an investment in higher wages and increased job opportunities for students. The increase in earnings between a high school and college graduate is even more important for African American and Hispanic students, groups that have been historically underserved by higher education and that remain underrepresented among college-educated Tennesseans.4
Ready for the future in hard economic times: As the economic recession resulting from COVID-19 continues, students with college degrees will likely have greater job security. Businesses hold postsecondary credentials in higher regard when making hiring and firing decisions during economic recessions.5 During these times, a stronger policy focus on postsecondary education is essential to ensuring that every student graduating high school in the state has an opportunity to earn a postsecondary credential that carries value in Tennessee’s economy.