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Postsecondary Attainment Rises

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April 23, 2014

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Postsecondary Attainment Rises

More than 39 percent of 25- to 64-year-olds held an associate or bachelor's degree in 2012, 0.7 percent higher than the year prior, according to the Lumina Foundation. This is the largest year-to-year increase in attainment since Lumina began tracking.

Young adults aged 25 to 34 had a promising attainment rate of 40.9 percent, which is 0.8 percent above 2011 and 3 percent above 2008. However, lower attainment rates for African-American and Hispanic students continue to be a concern.

In addition, Lumina notes the millions of Americans who hold a postsecondary certificate: 19 million, according to recent Census research. When those certificates are added to the total, the U.S. gets much closer to meeting Lumina's goal of higher education attainment for 60 percent of the adult population by 2025.

To continue and accelerate attainment, the report recommends:  

  1. Basing postsecondary credentials on what is actually learned, and sharing outcomes with the public
  2. Developing smarter pathways for students that connect to economic need and recognize learning in non-school settings
  3. Making higher education accessible and affordable

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