College Attainment Rates Appear to be Falling Short of 2025 Goals

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Posted By GoodCall Contributor on May 8, 2015 at 9:04 am
College Attainment Rates Appear to be Falling Short of 2025 Goals

The U.S. has 10 years left to rally and secure a college attainment goal to meet future labor needs and successfully compete in the world market.

That’s the message the Lumina Foundation gave last week when it released a report stating that the U.S. trails by 20 percent on its goal of 60 percent college attainment by 2025 (the necessary attainment rate for a majority of Americans to carve out successful careers and for the country to remain a top international workforce). Currently, college attainment is 40 percent among U.S. residents 25 to 64 years old.

Talent and innovation are developed in large part through postsecondary education, and for the United States’ economy to grow as projected, six out of 10 workers will require some type of postsecondary degree or certificate. Over the past six years, college attainment increased by just 2.1 percent, including a 0.6 percent rise in 2013. At this rate, the country will fall short of its 2025 goal by 12.3 percent.

A cultural divide

The Georgetown Center on Education has an even more sobering statistic: By the end of the decade, more than 65 percent of U.S. jobs will require postsecondary education.

In 2014, college enrollment was down by approximately 600,000 from the previous year. And the United States’ passive college attainment increases may reflect the country’s cultural divide, according to another report from Lumina.

At the top of the class in postsecondary degrees are Asian students (60 percent), followed by whites at 44.5 percent. African Americans were a distant third (28.1 percent), followed by Native Americans (23.9 percent) and Hispanics (20.3 percent).

Improving the graduation rates of minorities will need to be a priority over the next 10 years, according to the foundation.

Another possible cause, of course, is rising college costs, which prevent many lower-income students from attaining postsecondary education. College tuition has risen 1,120% since 1978. Average in-state tuition at public four-year universities is nearing $10,000, while out-of-state tuition is close to $23,000 – average tuition at private four-year universities has already reached over $30,000 per year.

Taking steps to improve 

In 2009, President Obama declared that the U.S. should lead the world in college completion rates by 2020. To do so, the rally will have to start soon.

To improve rates, the foundation suggested, the U.S. could begin accepting non-degree postsecondary certificates, also adding that the new data could generate an increase of at least 5 percent. Another potential increase could come from a number of the 36.2 million Americans who have attended college, but did not earn a degree, returning and finishing their studies.

This article was contributed to GoodCall by Jeff Hawkins. Jeff is an award-winning journalist and author who has written several books and screenplays and contributed to many local and regional newspapers. 

GoodCall Contributor

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