Report: Treasure Valley college enrollment falls short of demand

The good news: College enrollment numbers are trending upward in the Treasure Valley.

The bad news: The trend still isn’t strong enough.

“Currently, only 39 percent of adults (25 and older) in the Treasure Valley has an associate’s degree or higher,” the Treasure Valley Education Partnership said in a  report issued Wednesday. “While college enrollment and degree attainment rates have steadily increased over the years, the demand for skilled and college-educated workers continues to outpace the supply.”

TVEP’s report takes an in-depth look at college enrollment numbers in Ada, Canyon, Gem and Elmore counties.

According to the report, 66 percent of 2013 high school graduates attended college within two years of receiving their diploma. That’s a slight increase from 65 percent in 2010.

That number could continue to increase. In an exit survey, nearly three-fourths of the Treasure Valley’s 2016 high school seniors said they planned to go straight to college.

However, some graduates ruled out going straight to college — sometimes for financial reasons. Some seniors said they needed to make money after high school, and others said they couldn’t afford college.

“The survey results confirmed that high school students viewed finances as a barrier to enrollment and suggest that students can benefit from more information regarding the real cost of higher education and the student loan process,” the report said.

College graduation numbers also showed signs of improvement. Thirty percent of 2013 high school graduates had received a degree, up from 25 percent in 2010.

But with only 39 percent of adults holding a postsecondary degree, the Treasure Valley lags well behind a larger state goal.

Idaho’s education, political and business leaders want 60 percent of the state’s 25- to 34-year-olds to hold a postsecondary degree or certificate. But college enrollment numbers have remained languid, and it appears virtually impossible that Idaho will meet its 60 percent goal by the 2020 target date.

A state higher education task force will meet Friday to further discuss the issue.