The Certificate Solution

A key goal of the Obama administration has been to create an environment in which every American receives at least one year of postsecondary education. One year is a notable time frame as that it doesn’t correlate with an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree. A report being issued today suggests that the United States needs to follow that cue and focus on a form of education that comes in a range of durations — the certificate.

The report, issued by Complete College America and prepared by FutureWorks, argues that it may be more viable for many Americans with limited time to earn a certificate than to earn a college degree. And the report notes that while those who take some courses toward a degree but do not finish are unlikely to gain much economically from their efforts, there is substantial evidence that certificates do advance people economically.

Certificates are a "too often underutilized strategy," the report says, "but one that can deliver greater income returns than associate and even some bachelor’s degrees."

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