INDIANAPOLIS, April 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. is making slow, but steady progress in the number of Americans who hold high-quality credentials beyond high school diplomas. New data on nationwide postsecondary attainment released today by Lumina Foundation in its latest A Stronger Nation report indicates that 40.4 percent of working-age Americans (ages 25-64) held high-quality two- or four-year degrees in 2014, the latest U.S. Census Bureau (American Community Survey) figures available, up slightly from 40.0 percent in 2013.
For the first time, this year's Stronger Nation report also includes data on the attainment of postsecondary certificates. According to nationally representative survey data obtained by NORC at the University of Chicago, 4.9 percent of Americans hold high-quality postsecondary certificates. Certificates, which are often awarded by community and technical colleges, have significant value in the workforce and can provide the basis and gateway for further education.
Including the newly obtained NORC data, A Stronger Nation puts overall postsecondary attainment at 45.3 percent nationally.* The current rate of year-over-year increase is not sufficient to achieve the Foundation's Goal 2025—that by 2025, 60 percent of Americans hold high quality postsecondary degrees or certificates. In fact, the U.S. is projected to fall short of that number by 10.9 million people if the pace continues unchanged.
African American and Hispanic populations also continue to lag in attainment. While the attainment rate for whites is 49.7 percent, only 34.2 percent of African Americans have earned high-quality degrees or certificates and 26.0 percent of Hispanics have achieved education beyond high school. A Stronger Nation includes additional demographic and geographic breakdowns of current degree and certificate attainment rates at the state level and for select metro areas.
"The secret to individual and societal success is talent—the knowledge, skills, and abilities of our citizens— but right now, our nation lacks sufficient talent to meet the demands of the global job market," said Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation. "Many of those who see education beyond high school as valuable and essential aren't able to attain postsecondary credentials in today's environment. Closing that gap, or increasing attainment equity is an economic imperative, and will require a shift in the way we think about higher education to include and better serve non-traditional learners."
About Lumina Foundation
Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with degrees, certificates and other high-quality credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina's outcomes-based approach focuses on helping to design and build an equitable, accessible, responsive and accountable higher education system while fostering a national sense of urgency for action to achieve Goal 2025. For more information, logon to www.luminafoundation.org.
Lucia Anderson Weathers
*This denotes attainment of associate degrees and higher, plus for 2014, it shows the estimated percentage of residents who have earned high-value postsecondary certificates. The 4.9 percentage was derived by polling a nationally representative sample of men and women, ages 25-64. The survey was conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago (www.norc.org), an independent research institution.
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SOURCE Lumina Foundation