Higher Education in the Midwest

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The Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac of Higher Education for 2019-20 says the United States hosts 4,312 schools of higher education as defined by the Carnegie Classifications of Institutions of Higher Education. In the Midwest, there are 806 institutions of higher education, and Wisconsin ranks in the middle whether looking at 4-year public, 4-year private nonprofit, 4-year for-profit, or 2-year public.

STATE Number of Schools 4-year Public 4-Year Private, Non-profit 4-year For-profit 2-year Public 2-year Private Nonprofit 2-year For-profit
Iowa 62 3 34 7 16 0 2
Illinois 171 12 80 16 48 3 12
Indiana 80 14 40 13 1 1 11
Michigan 94 21 40 4 25 0 4
Minnesota 95 12 35 14 31 1 2
North Dakota 20 9 5 1 5 0 0
Ohio 185 35 69 16 25 5 35
South Dakota 23 7 7 4 5 0 0
Wisconsin 76 16 34 7 17 0 2
Midwest Total 806 129 344 82 173 10 68
Nationally 4,312 750 1,590 488 876 98 510

The “Midwest” is defined many ways, but for the purposes of this analysis it includes Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. An analysis excluding the Dakotas but including Nebraska and Pennsylvania would yield similar results, with Wisconsin being in the middle. It should be noted that only that half of the states in the Midwest (Iowa, Minnesota, North and South Dakota) have a projected increase in the number of new high school graduates, the remaining Midwest states all have a decline in young people, and nationwide it is projected there will be a 4.1% decrease in the number of new high school graduates by 2029-30.  Currently in the United States, the largest age group is the 25-44 age bracket, capturing 26.4% of the population. The next largest bracket is 45-64 years old  at 25.9%. 

STATE State Population (Rank) Per Capita Income (Rank) Poverty Rate New High School Graduates Estimated for 2019-20 (Projected change 2019-20 – 2029-30) 18- to 24- year-Olds Enrolled in College
Iowa 3,145,711 (30) $30,865 (26) 10.7% 34,980 (1.4%) 45.2%
Illinois 12,802,023 (6) $34,196 (15) 12.6% 143,205 (-12.7%) 42.7%
Indiana 6,666,818 (17) $28,323 (40) 13.5% 72,241 (-6.3%) 40.9%
Michigan 9,962,311 (10) $30,488 (27) 14.2% 99,993 (-12.9%) 44.5%
Minnesota 5,576,606 (22) $36,156 (11) 9.5% 61,506 (0.9%) 42.5%
North Dakota 755,393 (47) $34,041 (16) 10.3% 7,901 (40.6%) 42.8%
Ohio 11,658,609 (7) $30,038 (30) 14.4% 119,507 (-8.9%) 40.5%
South Dakota 869,666 (46) $29,611 (33) 13.0% 8,696 (13.3%) 39.9%
Wisconsin 5,795,483 (20) $31,998 (21) 11.3% 64,534 (-3.8%) 43.6%
Nationally 325,719,178 $32,397 13.4% 3,408,036 (-4.1%) 42.5%

Wisconsin supports 10% of the population of the Midwest, and about 1.8% of the nation. Wisconsin provides 10% of the Midwest undergraduate degrees awarded and less than 10% of the associate degrees, graduate degrees and doctoral degrees in the Midwest.

STATE Undergraduate Enrollment Graduate Enrollment Associate Degrees Awarded Bachelor’s Degrees Awarded Master’s Degrees Awarded Doctorate Degrees Awarded
Iowa 224,341 36,613 15,189 27,702 8,315 2,851
Illinois 605,357 152,059 39,728 76,203 43,774 8,869
Indiana 339,208 63,945 14,117 47,928 17,431 3,909
Michigan 476,450 81,603 28,282 61,341 22,060 5,640
Minnesota 297,523 115,443 17,915 36,772 24,464 5,346
North Dakota 46,064 7,685 2,349 6,427 1,682 554
Ohio 560,584 89,884 31,095 71,618 25,250 6,057
South Dakota 46,809 6,811 2,319 6,068 1,563 395
Wisconsin 301,126 39,644 12,927 37,074 9,229 2,728
Midwest Total 2,897,462 593,687 163,921 371,133 153,768 36,349
Nationally 16,769,025 3,017,995 998,329 11,956,373 808,599 181,636

According to the Almanac, colleges and universities in the United States which are seeing the largest increases are doing so because they are focusing on creating or expanding their online programs, at the undergraduate, graduate and in some cases doctoral levels. University of Cumberlands (Kentucky) created an online graduate degree program in 2011 and now has close to 12,000 online students, subsidizing the 1,400 undergraduates who study at the campus’s actual buildings.  The program has made Cumberlands the fastest-growing doctoral private nonprofit institution in the United States, with a 350 percent enrollment expansion from 2007 to 2017. The report says, “This year’s list of the fastest-growing colleges is a tale of two types of institutions: smaller, faith-based colleges that have found ways to distinguish themselves in a crowded market, and nonprofit mega-universities that have built online programs tailored to adult learners and marketed those programs aggressively. Their strategies differ, but both offer lessons for colleges seeking to expand their enrollment. “