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Committing to Student Success

Committing to Student Success

By Governor Pete Ricketts

December 30, 2019


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Nebraska has abundant job opportunities awaiting our college graduates.  In an era of rising costs to students and families for higher education, it’s important that we work together to help students stay on track with their degree plans.  By graduating on time, they can enjoy the rewards of a great-paying job and our state’s businesses can benefit from their skills and talent.


I recently joined leaders of Nebraska’s public higher education institutions and business community to announce a new partnership to encourage timely college graduation.


This statewide effort, called “Commit to Complete,” asks students to do four things to earn their degree on time: 1) meet with their advisor, 2) make a plan for their coursework, 3) stay on schedule, and 4) graduate on time.  By committing to complete, students can minimize their debt, enter the workforce sooner, and help us grow Nebraska for the future.


Commit to Complete benefits us all.  It is good for students and families, who are working hard to invest in their education.  They deserve to know that our colleges and universities will help them be successful and keep their costs down.  Commit to Complete is also good for Nebraska business owners, who depend on graduates of our community colleges, state colleges, and the University of Nebraska to fill their jobs.


And finally, Commit to Complete is also good for Nebraska.  If we are going to grow our state, we need to help people take the great opportunities here, set families up to be financially independent, and bring more skilled degree graduates into our workforce.  By encouraging students to earn their degrees as quickly as possible, we can accelerate their transition into a rewarding career.


Our colleges and universities are working to make Commit to Complete a reality for students and families by improving retention and graduation rates.  For example, our postsecondary institutions offer creative pathway programs that keep students on target to earn a degree, whether they start at a community college or four-year institution.  Our colleges and universities have also taken steps to limit the number of credit hours required to earn a degree.  Additionally, they are strengthening their advising and student support services.


I commend the leaders of Nebraska’s public higher education institutions for working together on these solutions.  Nebraskans expect our colleges and universities to partner together to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness.  I’m pleased to see their close cooperation to help students graduate on time.


At the same time, we have room to improve.  About one-third of first-time, full-time, degree-seeking students at Nebraska public four-year institutions graduate within four years.  One-fourth of first-time, full-time, degree- or certificate-seeking students at Nebraska’s two-year institutions earn their credentials within two years.


Of course, every student has unique circumstances.  “Timely graduation” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone.  Our goal with Commit to Complete is to remind students and families of the cost savings and earnings potential that can result when students graduate on time.  Our colleges and universities are affordable and offer great value.  But even so, every additional year of school makes a degree incrementally more expensive—both in terms of increased costs and delayed earnings.


The consequences of Nebraska’s economic growth are significant as well.  Business leaders tell me over and over that workforce shortages are their greatest challenge.  There’s a reason the Nebraska, Omaha, Kearney, and Lincoln Chambers of Commerce have all endorsed the Commit to Complete initiative.  They recognize that as a state, we need to do more to help Nebraskans take the great opportunities we have here more quickly and to expand our base of skilled workers so that we can stay competitive as a state.


Commit to Complete supports my mission to create an opportunity for Nebraskans through a more effective, more efficient, and customer-focused state government.  We can do just that by helping young people study, begin a career, and start a family right here in the Cornhusker State in a timely manner.


In addition, to Commit to Complete I’ve launched initiatives for young Nebraskans at the middle school and high school level to expose them to the great opportunities in Nebraska.  The Developing Youth Talent Initiative (DYTI) partners with local companies and schools to familiarize middle-school students—and their parents—with great jobs in manufacturing.  In July, we announced $250,000 in additional DYTI grants.  These projects will expand DYTI to as many as 5,500 new students in up to 44 school districts. 


At both the high school and college level, we’re adding new Registered Apprenticeships (RAs) across the state.  RAs give students hands-on experiences at a local business as part of their studies.  We’ve increased the number of RAs 44 percent since 2016.  These initiatives are charting a path from the classroom to rewarding jobs being created across our state.


If you have thoughts on how we can encourage timely graduation for Nebraska students, and better prepare them for great jobs, I hope you will email me at or call my office at (402) 471-2244.  We look forward to hearing from you.