College costs +38%, enrollment -10%

By Taxpayers Association of Oregon Foundation

About 10 percent fewer Oregonians are heading to college after high school graduation than the number who did so a decade ago, a change partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2011, about 65 percent of high school students attended community college or a university or trade school within a year or so of graduating, compared with 56 percent who pursued additional education in 2021.

Urban students are more likely to attend college than their counterparts in rural areas, and within the past decade, the number of racial minority students—Indigenous students (41 percent), Latinos (49 percent), and Pacific Islanders (37 percent)— pursuing college degrees has dropped compared with their white and Asian American peers, the article states.

High tuition and fees could be one major hurdle, with Oregon’s public universities charging the most among 15 western states at nearly $36,000 a year, and community college costs were second highest behind only South Dakota. Attending college in Oregon costs 38 percent more now than it did two decades ago, according to a 2023 state report.

A Pew Research Center study indicated people without college degrees struggle to reach middle class.

The State of Oregon set a goal in 2011 of seeing 80 percent of students pursue higher education—college, apprenticeships, or certificate programs. But today, only about 55 percent of Oregonians 34 and younger have done so.