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From The Chronicle of Higher Ed: College-Attainment Rate Inches Up, but Not Fast Enough for Lumina

With just 10 years to go until 2025 — the point at which the Lumina Foundation wants Americans to have a 60-percent college-attainment rate — there is still a gap of 20 percentage points between the goal and reality.

Forty percent of U.S. residents between the ages of 25 and 64 had at least an associate degree in 2013, according to the latest edition of an annual report that the foundation released on Thursday. That figure represents a 0.6-percentage point increase in the college attainment rate from the previous year.

The latest gain means that in six years, the attainment rate has inched up just 2.1 percentage points.

Jamie P. Merisotis, Lumina’s president, said that movement represents an increase of more than 2.8 million degrees, and that’s “real progress.”

Still, the approaching deadline underscores a sense of urgency: “We won’t meet our need for talent unless we accelerate,” Mr. Merisotis said. He added that colleges and states have made progress. “We moved the needle further, but it’s simply not fast enough to achieve the goal.”

The foundation’s 60-percent target is in line with President Obama’s goal,announced in 2009, for the United States to lead the world in college completion by 2020. But with six years to go, most observers believe Mr. Obama’s goal faces the same remote odds as Lumina’s.

But Mr. Merisotis said the foundation still believes the country can hit 60-percent attainment by 2025. The key, he said, is understanding where the gaps are.

If the United States continues at its current rate of college degree production, the country will reach an attainment rate of 48.7 percent by 2025, according to the report.

Even that prediction might be an optimistic one, the report acknowledges, considering declines in enrollment, persistence, and completion rates. But in order to close the remaining gap, the country must increase those rates among all demographics. Also, high-quality postsecondary credentials that are not currently included in the U.S. Census data on degrees must be counted, the report says.

Closing Attainment Gaps

As the job market and the economy improved, college enrollment was down by 600,000 students in 2014 from the previous year, according to the report — notably among adult students and African-American and Native-American students.

Read the rest of the story at The Chronicle of Higher Education

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