Increasing Wisconsin's Postsecondary Attainment Rate

In 2017, the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS), the University of Wisconsin (UW) System and the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (WAICU) received an “attainment challenge” grant from Lumina Foundation of Indianapolis.

Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. Last fall, it launched its Attainment Challenge Grant program and committed to support states with up to $100,000 for developing and implementing evidence-based policies to improve student success, close equity gaps, and help their states reach a robust postsecondary attainment goal.

The grant to Wisconsin’s partners will support their efforts to increase the percentage of working-age state residents – those aged 25 to 64 – with a credential beyond high school, such as a certificate, diploma or degree, or complete a registered apprenticeship. Higher attainment rates are tied to higher earnings and labor force participation.

The partners have agreed on the goal to increase the state’s postsecondary attainment rate to 60 percent by 2027 – “60 Forward.”

According to the 2017 issue of A Stronger Nation, Lumina’s annual report on postsecondary attainment, Wisconsin’s 2015 attainment rate was 47.2 percent, the most recent year for which data are available. While Wisconsin’s rate is above the national rate of 45.8 percent, it is short of labor economists’ estimates that 60 percent of all jobs will require a high-quality postsecondary credential by the end of this decade.

The Lumina grant will support efforts to increase attainment among adults with some college but no credential. Underrepresented populations, including non-traditional students of color, low-income and first generation students, will also be supported. In Wisconsin, 19.3 percent of Hispanic adults and 22.7 percent of African-American adults hold a two- or four-year degree, compared to 44.1 percent of Wisconsin residents overall.

Under the grant, the partners will convene state leaders and nationally-recognized experts, who will share their experiences with attainment goal efforts in other states and higher education systems.

Additional grant work will include development of a communications framework for outreach to key audiences to convey the relevance and value of achieving Wisconsin’s attainment goal.

60 Forward - Resource Documents

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Date Modified

File Type

Joint Resolution - Wisconsin Attainment Goal 07/13/17 PDF File