Quality education was so important to Nebraska’s forefathers that they devoted a special section of the Nebraska Constitution to addressing educational issues. Today’s policymakers remain committed to a strong public educational system focused on producing the leaders and workers of the Next Generation. Recognizing the importance of students getting off to a good start in their educational pursuits, the state of Nebraska is quickly becoming a leader in early childhood education. The Nebraska Legislature made a substantial investment of public funds during the 2013 legislative session to assure that all needy preschool students have access to high quality preschool options. In addition, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, in partnership with philanthropist Susie Buffett, started the Buffett Early Childhood Institute in 2011. The goal of the Institute is to “work collaboratively to improve the lives of children from birth through age 8.”
Nebraska’s high schools graduate almost 90% of their students, a rate near the top in national comparisons. Similarly, over 70% of high school graduates continue on to college following high school. The average ACT score for Nebraska students was 22.1 in 2012, one full point higher than the national average.
The community college system in Nebraska consists of six main campuses spread across the state. These institutions offer both academic and technical programs of study; the community colleges also maintain very strong collaborative relationships with local business and industry. In many cases, the community colleges are the first option in meeting specific industry training needs. Costs for attending community college classes are very affordable.
While the Nebraska Cornhuskers are the most recognized higher ed entity in the state, Nebraska is home to a variety of small and large higher education institutions, including three Division I universities. Total enrollment at the University of Nebraska campuses (UNL, UNO, UNMC, UNK, NCTA) exceeds 50,000 students. University of Nebraska graduates are recognized and sought after by industries from around the globe.
With approximately 8,900 students, the Nebraska State College system has three campuses in smaller Nebraska markets. In addition to these public institutions, Nebraska is home to 18 independent colleges and universities, most with student enrollment at 1,000 students or less.
Many of the higher education institutions have offices dedicated to working with military veterans to assure a successful transition from the military to the college environment. Central Community College in Grand Island was recently recognized as the top community college in America for veterans, while the University of Nebraska at Omaha was ranked the second-best 4-year institution for military vets. In addition, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is an active participant in the Department of Defense yellow ribbon program. Finally, Bellevue University recently opened a new facility on campus dedicated specifically to servicing military veterans, with a special tie to military personnel from Offutt Air Force Base and the United States Strategic Command.