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College Degrees On Rise Despite Cost of Tuition, Student Loan Debt

June 13th, 2013 · No Comments · Consumer Debt, Student Loans

Meredith Simonds

by Meredith Simonds

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We are seeing steady growth in post-secondary education, but we have a long way to go in meeting the Lumina Foundation's Goal 2025 -- 60 percent of Americans holding college degrees or certificates.

We are seeeing steady growth in post-secondary education, but we have a long way to go in meeting the Lumina Foundation’s Goal 2025 — 60 percent of Americans holding college degrees or certificates.

With the number of U.S. jobs requiring post-secondary education on the rise, the number of Americans with college degrees (or certificates) needs to follow suit. Every year, the Lumina Foundation publishes a report on our progress, which is slowly but surely headed in the right direction, despite the rising cost of tuition and, in turn, student loan debt.

By 2020, it’s estimated that 65 percent of U.S. jobs will require post-secondary degrees or credentials. As of 2011 — the most recent year for which data is available — the number of Americans 25 to 64 with post-secondary degrees or credentials is 38.7 percent. Among young adults 25 to 34, the percentage is 40.1. As previously-published data shows, this represents a slow but steady rise:

  • In 2008, 37.9 percent of Americans 25 to 64 held a post-secondary degree or certificate
  • In 2009, 38.1 percent of Americans 25 to 64 held a post-secondary degree or certificate
  • In 2010, 38.3 percent of Americans 25 to 64 held a post-secondary degree or certificate

As for the growth rate among young adults 25 to 34, it’s jumped 2.5 percentage points since 2008.

Still, at this rate of growth, we are far from on-target for meeting the Lumina Foundation’s Goal 2025 — 60 percent of Americans holding college degrees or certificates. And this is no arbitrary goal, but one obviously aimed at answering the call for the projected 65 percent of jobs that will require post-secondary education by 2020. This goal is challenged by the rising cost of tuition which Americans are increasingly having trouble with. Student loan debt is nearing the $1 trillion mark, surpassing credit card debt for the first time in history. What’s worse is the state of delinquency rates, forcing college graduates to make tough decisions, seemingly impossible decisions, as student loans are not (worst-case scenario) dischargeable in bankruptcy.

The Lumina Foundation is a non-profit founded in 2000 with the aim of expanding access and success in education beyond high school. This is the fourth year in a row that Lumina has compiled and published numbers for the percentage of Americans holding post-secondary degrees or credentials.

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