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Michigan needs nearly 800,000 more postsecondary credentials to hit 2025 goal

Education, Learning and Evaluation

The Michigan Postsecondary Credential Attainment Workgroup released a report and website that detail how the state can move toward a better educated workforce and ensure that 60 percent of adult residents have a post-secondary credential by 2025.

The Reaching for Opportunity report – funded with support from The Kresge Foundation as well as the Lumina and W.K. Kellogg Foundations – found that 46 percent of Michigan adults carry a credential, defined as all levels of postsecondary accomplishment from a certificate up to a graduate or doctorate degree. To meet the 2025 goal, 779,000 more Michiganders will need to obtain a postsecondary credential.

The report included many important findings, including:

  • 25 percent of Michigan adults have some postsecondary education, but no degree
  • Michigan ranks 32 among states in per capita income, which is tied to post-secondary attainment rates
  • 30 percent of Michigan residents with less than a high school education live in poverty, while the rate among bachelor’s degree holders is only 5 percent

The report also landed on seven broad policy recommendations to move toward the 2025 goal. They include:

  • A new “student-friendly” statewide transfer data functionality that would be part of a “Pure Michigan” style campaign to promote postsecondary education and provide information about transferability, acceptance of courses and credits among and between institutions
  • Further streamline the transfer of credits, programs, and credentials by: extending the Michigan Transfer Agreement to transitions among all institutions; establishing a more seamless transfer of the associate’s degree and creating transfer pathways as 37 other states have done; establishing “meta-majors” to provide clear and achievable programmatic pathways for students; and creating a clearer process for identifying/standardizing course equivalencies
  • Maintain the Kresge-funded Michigan Center for Student Success, which supports Michigan’s community colleges in organizing and implementing student success strategies, and links them to effective state and national models and practice.

“Earning a postsecondary credential can be a life changer,” said William Moses, managing director of The Kresge Foundation’s Education Program. “Statistics show that people with postsecondary credentials earn more, are healthier and are happier, too. We want more Michiganders, especially those disproportionally left behind, to experience those benefits. This thoughtful report and its policy suggestions offer a clear path for Michigan to get there, and we are proud to have been able to support the workgroup’s efforts.”

The Michigan Postsecondary Credential Attainment Workgroup formed in 2014 to build a new statewide strategy for postsecondary success. It included representatives from public and private universities and colleges, the private sector, the state legislature, both major political parties, the Michigan Department of Education, and community and regional education and workforce leaders. The workgroup has committed to work together to advance a plan of action based on this report.

The full report, recommendations and a list of workgroup members is available at

The Kresge Foundation works to expand opportunity for low-income people in America’s cities. Its Education Program promotes postsecondary access and success for low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students.