Report: Half of college grads not staying in Mississippi

Published 3:56 pm Monday, April 4, 2022

As of 2020, only half of all Mississippi’s public university graduates worked in the state three years after leaving college.

Further, according to a report released today by State Auditor Shad White’s office, data trends show a growing number of college graduates choose to leave Mississippi as time passes. If the trends continue without being addressed, Mississippi’s “brain drain” is likely to worsen even as the state spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year on its public universities.

“This is a critical issue for Mississippi. As State Auditor, I wanted to understand how much we’re spending on university students and how many are staying here,” said White, “but as a Mississippian, I’m concerned about more than just the cost to taxpayers.”

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In addition to showing the percentage of college graduates leaving Mississippi soon after graduation, today’s report also shows which universities and general degree programs are best and worst at producing future Mississippi residents. The report also shows where in the state our public college graduates have been most likely to work after leaving a public university in Mississippi.

“Brain drain forces us to ask questions like, ‘Will our state have enough nurses and doctors to care for the elderly in coming years? Are we keeping the future entrepreneurs who will build Mississippi businesses? Will grandparents be able to see their grandkids grow up?’” said White. “These questions show why brain drain is important to everyone.”

The report was produced after State Auditor Shad White requested data from the State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) — a state-funded resource designed to evaluate workforce and education strategies in terms of real outcomes, such as entrance into employment, wages, and skill gains. The National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center (NSPARC) conducted data analysis on behalf of SLDS.

Aside from commissioning this report, the Office of the State Auditor has proposed its own solution for keeping auditing talent in the state. In February 2022, Auditor White announced the “Stay in the ‘Sip” Fellowship to combat the brain drain faced by the Auditor’s office. The fellowship pays for a portion of an accounting student’s university education if the student agrees to work in the Auditor’s office for a minimum of two years after graduation. Visit to learn more about the program. Read the full report here.