For almost ten years, researchers with the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation has been checking in with Vermont’s graduating class of 2012 to collect data on college enrollment and completion rates.

The final follow-up with the class of 2012 shows that less than half of surveyed students went on to get a college degree within six years of graduating high school.

Researchers are concerned that only 46 percent of respondents from the class of 2012 went on to get college degrees. “An alarming number when you think about what jobs are going to require from these students in order to earn a livable wage here in Vermont,” says Marilyn Cargill, Vice President for Financial Aid Services for VSAC.

“Within three years, 70 percent of the jobs in Vermont will require training beyond high school, and 100 percent of high wage and high demand jobs in Vermont will require training beyond high school.”

Cargill noted that the final report also sheds light on who might be less likely to go to college. “Generation matters, if your parents went to college, you’re much more likely to go and even more, you’re much more likely to complete. Gender matters, boys are much less likely to go on to school, especially if they’re first-generation.”

68 percent of women from the class of 2012 who’s parents went to college got a degree within 6 years, compared to just 26 percent of men who’s parents didn’t seek higher education.

Despite the numbers, there could be a silver lining as the report does not include students who went on to enroll in training programs.

“The coding camps that people are using to gain IT skills, and CDL licensing organizations that are helping people become truck drivers. Those are programs where we would never see those credentials being earned, but they would absolutely lead to high-demand, high wage jobs.”

As for the overwhelming data provided in the report, Cargill hopes it proves useful for the state’s decision makers as they consider the future of higher education. “Families are really struggling financially, and we have to find ways for families to be able to pay for higher education and access higher education. I think that ability to at least consider an option of starting at a two year school and then transferring to a four year school to make it more affordable is something I think families need to just be aware that exists for them and how they can access it.”