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Achieving Higher Education Attainment

OVERVIEW

The West Virginia workforce requires trained and educated workers. To meet these needs, an estimated 60% of West Virginians will need a higher education certificate or degree,[1] whereas currently, only 19.6% of those aged 25 or older have attained a bachelors’ degree or higher. To close this gap WV can work to improving affordability, offering innovative, flexible learning opportunities, degrees and certification for a wide variety of learners including rural, first-generation students, veterans, minorities and those with disabilities.

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West Virginia’s vibrancy, resilience and growth depend on the ability to give all West Virginians the right educational opportunities to unlock their full potential and contribute to the state’s economic growth. By uncovering state-specific data and cultural norms while generating new research, WV Forward is supporting efforts to improve higher education accessibility, which in turn, enriches a diverse, skilled and educated workforce.

On average, those with higher levels of education: 

  • Earn more.
  • Are more likely to be employed.
  • Are more likely to stay employed when there are disruptions in the economy and workforce.

Therefore, there is a need to increase the number of individuals who achieve higher education.

  • Nearly one-third of students who complete high school either delay or never attend college.
  • Around half of students who begin college never earn a degree.
  • Students who fail or drop out face a triple threat to their financial futures—low wealth, high debt, and low earnings.

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*Citations available upon request.