Which states have experienced the most growth in associate’s degree completions since 2003? To find out, we took a quick look at the latest numbers from the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).
IPEDS accounts for all colleges and universities that participate or are applicants for any federal financial assistance program authorized by the Higher Education Act (HEA), which includes most of the well-known federal loans (e.g., Pell Grants, Stafford Loans). All public colleges and universities and a number of private postsecondary schools accept federal assistance loans and therefore are included in this analysis.
The following table is sorted by percentage change in completers for all 50 states and Washington, D.C. from 2003-2009. Please note that IPEDS reporting is subject to fluctuations and the data can be flawed from year to year and state to state. (For more on shifting trends in college completions, see this data spotlight.)
|State||2003 Completers||2009 Completers||2003-09 Change||% Change|
Both in total numbers and by percentage, Arizona easily had the most growth from 2003-2009, and particularly in the last few years. The number of associate’s completers there has jumped 36.4% since 2006 — and a whopping 249% since 2003.
Much of Arizona’s growth, it seems, can be attributed to the rise of the University of Phoenix. According to 2008 completion data in EMSI Analyst, there were nearly 7,000 completers alone in an associate’s level business administration/management program (CIP 52.0201) offered by the online school. In total, the University of Phoenix produced more 11,000 two-year completers in 2008 just in Arizona.
Meanwhile, seven states saw a decline in associate’s degree completions, the biggest percentage loss coming from Vermont (-17%). The other six declining states were Montana, Louisiana, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Idaho, and Hawaii.
Moving to the County Level
After showing how individual states have fared in the last seven years, here’s a slightly different angle to the analysis. The following map and table show the percent growth of associate’s degree holders at the county level using EMSI’s educational attainment data and GIS tool.
These figures come from the decennial census and the annual Current Population Statistics — both from the U.S. Census Bureau — and include all residents age 25 and up. Once again, the time frame is 2003-2009.
The most growth has occurred throughout Texas and the Southwest, but No. 1 on the list — Kendall County, Illinois — was the fastest-growing county in terms of population between 2000 and 2007 (among counties with at least 10,000 people).
The next table shows counties with at least 50,000 associate’s degree holders as of 2003.
The numbers are revealing: Riverside County, Calif., and Tarrant County, Texas — its county seat is Fort Worth — come out on top, at 22% growth from ’03-09. And tied for fourth is Maricopa County, Arizona, where Phoenix is located.
And here are counties with at least 50,000 associate’s degree holders that have declined the most. Notice the huge dip in Wayne County, Mich. (Detroit) and Cook County, Ill. (Chicago).
For completers or educational attainment data and projections — at the associate’s or any other education level — for your region, email Josh Wright (firstname.lastname@example.org).