Degree Attainment Rises, But Not Fast Enough

Higher Education

Degree Attainment Rises, But Not Fast Enough

Apr 11, 2016

CHASING CREDENTIALS: Today, Lumina Foundation, a private Indianapolis-based group focused on increasing Americans’ success in higher education, released its seventh annual "A Stronger Nation" report, documenting America's national attainment of high quality postsecondary credentials. For the first time, its data includes estimates for how many people have received certificates, as a metric significant both for job acquisition and continued education. As of 2014, 45 percent of Americans held a high-quality postsecondary certificate or higher. Lumina Foundation wants to push this number to 60 percent by 2025. At current rates, the report estimates the U.S. will fall 10.9 million people short of this goal.

Lumina Foundation challenges the narrative that after the recession less jobs were available to people with degrees. In fact, it claims there are 8.1 million more jobs for people with bachelor’s degrees or higher than when the recession started. The foundation provides three recommendations for reaching 60 percent attainment by 2025, including improving access to postsecondary educational opportunities for working 25- to 54-year-olds, and recognizing employer-sponsored credentials.

Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation, writes in the report’s introduction, "The vital step in meeting this exploding demand for talent—the indispensable step, we at Lumina Foundation are convinced—is to significantly increase postsecondary attainment rates, especially among students who represent our future as a nation: non-white students, working adults, first-generation students and low-income students."

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