More Americans are earning college degrees, but the attainment rate must increase to meet the Lumina Foundation’s Goal 2025, a new report shows. Lumina wants 60 percent of adults to hold a “high-quality” degree, certificate or other postsecondary credential by 2025.
Currently, 39.4 percent of working-age adults have earned a two-year or four-year degree. Another 5.2 percent hold a “certificate of significant economic value,” estimates the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce.
If current trends continue, 49 percent will be college graduates by 2025.
Still, Lumina is thinking positive: “Not only are postsecondary attainment rates generally increasing, the rate of that increase is rising as well,” says the report. If the current rate of increase continues, 56 percent of working-age adults will hold a degree or other credential by 2025; young adults will hit 60 percent.
“We’re seeing momentum,” Jamie P. Merisotis, Lumina’s president, told The Chronicle of Higher Education.
College enrollment has dipped. The high school population is smaller and “the modest recovery of the job market” is reducing the number of adult students. “We have to focus on adults because it is hard to conceive of a way to get to the goal just by focusing on traditional students,” Merisotis said.
The biggest challenge, however, is that higher education has to do a better job of educating the nation’s underserved minority students, as well as low-income and first-generation students, Mr. Merisotis said.
In particular, he said, colleges must improve completion rates among Hispanic and African-American students, who graduate at much lower rates than do their white and Asian-American peers.
While 59 percent of Asian-American adults and nearly 44 percent of whites hold a college degree, only 28 percent of black adults and about 20 percent of Hispanics are college graduates, according to Census figures.
While more Hispanics are enrolling college, completion rates are low. If success rates don’t improve, the overall attainment rate could decline to less than 38 percent by 2025.