Stronger Nation through Higher Education

Posted by Lumina Foundation on April 27, 2015

With 10 years remaining towards Lumina Foundation’s goal of increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates, and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025, where do we stand on college-attainment rates? Lumina Foundation’s report, “Stronger Nation through Higher Education” states that the U.S. higher education attainment rate is 40 percent. While the nation is making progress in increasing postsecondary attainment, that progress is not nearly sufficient to reach Goal 2025. There are two issues that must be addressed: closing the significant and persistent gaps in postsecondary attainment among various segments of the population; and accelerating the rate at which overall attainment increases.

Attainment gaps linked to race and ethnicity deserve special scrutiny. While the overall attainment rate is 40 percent, the rate for African Americans is only 28.1 percent. The rates for Native Americans and Hispanics are even lower, at 23.9 percent and 20.3 percent, respectively. Since nonwhite residents account for a growing share of the U.S. population, these persistent gaps in attainment are arguably the most serious threat to the nation’s ability to reach Goal 2025. For its part, Lumina Foundation has increased its commitment to addressing what it call the equity imperative — the pressing need to close gaps in attainment linked to race and ethnicity.

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