More Maine high school graduates are going to college, and more of them are choosing a college in Maine, according to a report released Thursday by the Mitchell Institute.

Between 2009 and 2013, Maine’s high school graduation rate increased from 80 percent to 86 percent, and the number of students going to college has increased from 57 percent to 62 percent, according to “College-Going in Maine: Data Brief 2014.”

Maine’s high school graduation rate is higher than the national average of 80 percent, but the percentage of students going to college is still lower than the national average of 66 percent, according to federal data.

Of Maine’s college-bound students, 72 percent attended college in the state in 2013, up from 67 percent in 2006. More of them are going to two-year colleges, according to the report.

Enrollment experts say community colleges have seen a boom in enrollment during the recession and as tuition at four-year colleges has climbed. In Maine, the public universities say declining enrollments are a key factor behind years of budget gaps, combined with declining state support and tuition freezes.

According to the Mitchell Report, of college-bound high school students, 79 percent of Maine graduates in 2006 went to a four-year college and 21 percent went to a two-year college. By contrast, in 2013, 75 percent went to a four-year college and 25 percent went to a two-year college.

The report also analyzed how many of those students returned to college for their sophomore year. Statewide, an average 84 percent returned their sophomore year, but that rate varies widely depending on the student’s hometown, according to the report.

The highest rate of students returning for their sophomore year was 88 percent in Cumberland County. The lowest was 78 percent in Aroostook County.

Research director Lisa Plimpton was impressed by the number of students who went to college even though they did not meet Maine’s math and reading proficiency standards. Forty nine percent who did not meet the math standard went to college and 50 percent who did not meet the reading standard went.

And they also returned the following year. Of those students who did not meet the math standard but went to college anyway, about 50 percent returned for their sophomore year.

“I find that kind of amazing,” Plimpton said. “It’s low, but wow, these people are tenacious.”

The report also illustrates the effect of poverty on education. The college-attendance rate among economically disadvantaged Mainers was 48 percent in 2013, compared to 72 percent for high school graduates who were not economically disadvantaged.

The Mitchell Institute conducts education research and each year gives scholarships to a graduating senior from each public high school in Maine. Since 1995, it has awarded more than $11 million in scholarships.

Other findings in the report, which is available at , include:

• Gender plays a role: 69 percent of Maine’s female graduates went to college, compared to 56 percent of male graduates.

• Racial breakdown for college enrollments were 69 percent for Asian students, 62 percent for white students, 60 percent for American Indian, 59 percent for black, and 55 for percent Hispanic/Latino.

• The number of Maine high school graduates who completed a college degree within six years for a bachelor’s or three years for an associate degree increased from 52 percent in 2012 to 56 percent in 2013.

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