MHEC News June 2024

I hope that you're enjoying the beginning of summer. Our Executive Committee Meeting was held in Saint Louis on June 3-4. I extend my heartfelt thanks to our Executive Committee members who attended and contributed to the rich discussions. I am also grateful to the members of our Governance, Finance and Audit, and Ad Hoc Programmatic Investment Committees who were also able to take time to join us and to who have helped guide our strategic initiatives moving forward. I'm also thankful to our staff who worked hard to make our meeting a success.

We hosted the Midwest FAFSA Summit in downtown Chicago this past week a timely and important topic for so many students, their families, and for all those around them who support their success. We were honored by the presence of Under Secretary James Kvaal, who engaged in a meaningful dialogue. His insights and acknowledgment of the challenges surrounding the new FAFSA rollout and student debt were both enlightening and encouraging. We had a great turnout and are excited about continuing these discussions in our states to support increased FAFSA completion rates in the Midwest. I want to take a moment to recognize the tremendous effort that goes into planning these significant events. Our collaborators, including the National College Attainment Network and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, have been invaluable partners. Additionally, we are grateful for the generous support from the Strada Education Foundation, which helped make this gathering possible.

We anticipate productive gatherings at our annual M-SARA and Technologies Executive Committee meetings scheduled for the latter half of this month.

I chose to take the train from Minneapolis to Chicago for the meeting last week, knowing that with Amtrak, one shouldn't be in a hurry! While the ride was even longer than I had anticipated, it offered much needed time for reflection. I hope you can find time this summer to pause, have fun, and reflect on the good work being done in your states.

See below for other highlights from this month:

  • Policy & Research: Postsecondary Attainment; Digital Learning Professional Development
  • Convenings: Concurrent Enrollment Series; Course Marking Webinar
  • Commissioner News: Appointments in Indiana and Missouri; MHEC Executive Meeting Recap
  • Team Updates: Upcoming events; Parks earns doctorate; new compact intern

As always, our Compact welcomes your feedback and suggestions.

Susan G. Heegaard
MHEC President

Under Secretary Kvaal Addresses Questions from Attendees at Midwest FAFSA Summit

Under Secretary Kvaal answers audience questions, moderated by SHEEO's Dustin Weeden.MHEC hosted the Midwest FAFSA Summit from June 11-13 in downtown Chicago. The event brought together a broad cross-section of stakeholders from across the twelve Midwest states, including postsecondary state higher education administrators, policymakers, and public and non-profit professionals who influence FAFSA policy and practice. One of the highlights of the summit was a plenary session featuring a dialogue with Under Secretary James Kvaal. In his opening remarks, Kvaal acknowledged the challenges posed by the new FAFSA rollout and expressed gratitude to the attendees for their dedication in navigating these changes. The summit included various sessions focusing on FAFSA completion initiatives, successful state approaches, college attainment, college and career readiness, and effective communication strategies. Additionally, state representatives had the opportunity to convene, discuss the FAFSA landscape in their respective states, and plan future initiatives. MHEC extends its gratitude to its collaborators—the National College Attainment Network and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association—for their support in planning this event. The summit was also generously supported by the Strada Education Foundation.

Attendees from Michigan gather around two round tables during the state work session.

(Top Right) Under Secretary James Kvaal answers audience questions, moderated by SHEEO's Dustin Weeden.(Bottom) During one of the state working sessions, Michigan attendees discuss the landscape of FAFSA in their state. View more images on MHEC's Facebook page.


Policy & Research

Most Midwestern States Surpass National Benchmarks for Postsecondary Attainment

The latest update to MHEC's Interactive Dashboard shows that in 2022, postsecondary attainment rates for adults in three age groups—25 to 34, 25 to 44, and 25 to 64—in seven Midwestern states (Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin) were consistently higher than the corresponding national averages. Additionally, attainment rates for adults ages 25 to 44 and 25 to 64 were higher than the national benchmarks in Nebraska. The data highlight a common trend across most states, wherein postsecondary attainment rates are higher among younger adults (ages 25 to 34 and 25 to 44) than the adult population that includes older adults (ages 25 to 64).

This indicator measures the percentage of adults in selected age groups who have attained any postsecondary credential. Postsecondary attainment is based on the highest credential completed, including an industry-recognized certification, a sub-baccalaureate certificate, an associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree or higher. Postsecondary attainment levels are presented for adults ages 25 to 34, 25 to 44, and 25 to 64.

Selected benefits indicators are also available for MHEC states in the report Higher Education in Focus.
Educational Attainment

Source. U.S. Census Bureau. (2022). American Community Survey one-year estimates: Sex by age by educational attainment for the population 18 years and over. Lumina Foundation. (2024). A stronger nation: Learning beyond high school builds American talent.


Digital Learning Professional Development Discount Offer for Faculty and Instructional Staff at MHEC Institutions

Interested in learning how to integrate digital literacy, digital creativity, and digital learning into curriculum? Want to learn to better leverage Generative AI for pedagogical purposes? From posters to podcasting, prompt engineering to playable media, the Open Digital Gardener Faculty Fellows program offers a 15-week, virtual professional development program for faculty and instructional staff that helps them learn to cultivate digital ways of knowing, doing, and making, and to bring those practices into the classroom. Register today and use the code MHEC15 for 15% off. This is being offered by Indiana University Bloomington. More information can be found at, or contact Justin Hodson, director of the Digital Gardener Initiative.


Concurrent Enrollment Webinar Series
June 27, July 11, 23, 31, and August 20

How States and Systems Can Support Practitioner Efforts to Strengthen Dual Enrollment

Explore how states in the MHEC region are implementing the recommendations from the January 2024 Community College Research Center (CCRC) and College in High School Alliance report, “How States and Systems Can Support Practitioner Efforts to Strengthen Dual Enrollment." This five-part webinar series showcases practical examples of states operationalizing the report's three key recommendations: expanding access to dual/concurrent enrollment, strengthening dual/concurrent enrollment pathways, and building and sustaining access, quality, and success through robust partnerships. Please sign-up to attend and learn how states and systems in the MHEC region are translating these recommendations into effective practices to enhance dual enrollment. Any questions may be addressed to Dr. Beth Ellie, associate director of policy initiatives.

Learn more about each webinar:

Review the recording from the last Concurrent Enrollment Advisory Committee meeting.


A Course Marking Road Map
July 10 | 1:00 p.m. CT

Recommendations to guide the development and implementation of open and affordable course marking for the benefit of students, faculty, and institutions

Join Dr. Jenny Parks, MHEC vice president, as she hosts Dr. Gina Johnson, principal and cofounder of Data EmpowerED Consulting, and Dr. Liliana Diaz, policy analyst from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, for A Course Marking Road Map webinar on July 10. This event will introduce MHEC's recommendations for developing and implementing open and affordable course marking, created with input from a nationally representative group of experts. The webinar will cover five critical steps in the course marking process and offer key takeaways to aid institutions, systems, and states interested in adopting these practices.


Commissioner Appointments

Dottie King
President and CEO
Independent Colleges of Indiana
Term: 4/12/2024 to 2/28/2028

Senator Curtis Trent
State Senator; Chair, Education and Workforce Development
Missouri General Assembly
Term: 5/6/2024 to 12/31/2024


MHEC Convenes Executive Committee in St. Louis    

The MHEC Executive Committee convened on June 11-13 in St. Louis with all 12 member states represented. Missouri commissioners hosted the meeting beginning with a welcome from Commissioner David Pearce and Kurt Weigle, senior vice president and chief downtown officer for Greater St. Louis. Kansas Representative Barbara Ballard, who serves as MHEC chair, led the meeting's business.  Reports were given from the Governance and Finance and Audit Committees. MHEC’s financial position remains strong with all 12 member states paying their annual state commitments. Commissioners also took action to approve the FY24 MHEC budget. MHEC's Ad Hoc Programmatic Investment Committee met for the first time to brainstorm opportunities for addressing heathier-than-expected, technology-related revenues. Commissioners toured the Missouri Botanical Garden and enjoyed a dinner at Washington University in St. Louis, where MHEC was welcomed by J.D. Burton, vice chancellor of government and community relations for Washington University. Commissioners also heard from Missouri Commissioner Ben Boggs who shared his experience leading the merger of two departments into one, transforming the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development.

MHEC Officers and President Heegaard; MO Commissioner Ben Boggs
(Top L to R): Treasurer Larry Tidemann (SD), Past Chair David Eisler (MI), Chair Barbara Ballard (KS), and MHEC President Susan Heegaard. (Bottom): Missouri Commissioner Ben Boggs.

Team Updates

Connect with MHEC Staff at Upcoming Events

Nathan Sorensen, director of government contracts, will attend the HPE Discover 2024 conference on June 17-20. Susan Heegaard, president, will attend the 69th SHEEO Annual Meeting on July 15-18.

Congratulations to Dr. Parks!

Dr. Jenny Parks, vice president of policy and research, graduated in May with her doctorate in higher education administration from Northeastern University in Boston.

MHEC Welcomes Compact Intern

Zola Davis, compact intern, joined the MHEC staff on June 6. In her second week she attended the Midwest FAFSA Summit. She will be working with MHEC staff across the organization. Zola is from Wisconsin and attends the University of Minnesota.


Articles and Resources of Interest

Credit for prior learning is showing value. Should your college care?
University Business | June 6, 2024

The Lure of Work
The Chronicle of Higher Education | June 3, 2024

First State Passes Law to Ban Tuition Sharing with OPMs
Whiteboard Advisors | June 2024

Building Better Internships
Strada Education Foundation | May 30, 2024

Universities try 3-year degrees to save students time, money
Stateline | May 30, 2024

Digital Mental Health Interventions at Colleges & Universities
The Hope Center | May 2024