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College numbers soaring
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This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Southern Regional Education (SREB) Factbook. The SREB, founded in 1948, gathers information from 16 Southern region states (Arkansas, Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia) in order to improve pre-K through postsecondary education.

The Factbook, a data warehouse of information, provides Georgia with statistics on how our state rates on a variety of higher education issues as compared to the U.S. and the SREB region. This Factbook can be accessed at

Georgia college enrollment trends are promising
In the fall of 2005 there were 426,650 students enrolled in higher education institutions in Georgia, a 3 percent increase from fall 2004. Georgia ranks fifth among SREB states in total enrollment. Total enrollment includes public, private, two-year, four-year and technical institutions.

In 2004, 62 percent of recent high school graduates enrolled in college in Georgia. Women accounted for the most of the college enrollment growth in every SREB state from 1995 to 2005. In Georgia, women made up 42 percent (74,900) of the enrollment growth in Georgia from 1995 to 2005. This 42 percent growth ranks only behind Arkansas and Florida in the SREB states.

Men in Georgia accounted for 27 percent (37,000) of the enrollment growth for the same time period. This growth was among the best in the SREB states, ranking only behind Arkansas at 39 percent, Florida at 29 percent and Kentucky at 47 percent. In all, 1995 to 2005 enrollment in Georgia was a lot better than the U.S. growth of 27 percent (2.1 million) for women and 20 percent (1.2 million) for men. The Board of Regents recently announced a new strategic plan based on the expected growth of 100,000 additional students by 2020.

Georgia degrees
In 2000, Georgia ranked 4th in the SREB region in the percentage of adults with bachelor’s degrees or higher. In 1950 only 5 percent of adults 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree or higher. In 2000 that number rose to 24 percent, which was at the same level as the U.S. average.  

If we look at degree attainment by racial/ethnic group, 27 percent of white students, 16 percent of black students, and 14 percent of Hispanic students earned a bachelor’s degree or higher in Georgia in 2000. This too was consistent with the U.S. average with only the U.S. Hispanic average being slightly lower at 10 percent.

Graduation rates
College graduation rates from public four-year institutions in Georgia (48 percent) are lower than the national average (54 percent) and the SREB average (52 percent). However, it does pay to go to college. Nationally in 2005, the average yearly earnings of an adult with a bachelor’s degree was $56,700, nearly twice the average earnings of those with a high school diploma or GED credentials.

In another positive trend, Georgia did rank fourth at 78 percent in 2005 for SREB states in student progression rates. These are full-time freshmen who first enrolled to pursue bachelor’s degrees in 1999 either had graduated within six years, still were enrolled or had transferred to another college. This was 5 percent better than the average for all SREB states.

Higher education is important — no SREB state with a high growth rate in personal income has a low growth rate in the number of college graduates. Conversely, no state with a low number of college graduates has a high personal income growth.

A future column will delve into Georgia’s college system, public and private and future needs.

Visit the Legislature’s Home Page at
To view the FY2008 budget in its entirety:  - Tab - Budget Reports

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