Not Quite Complete

The college “completion agenda” is running behind schedule, at least in substantially boosting the national proportion of degree-holders. But from a policy and public-relations perspective, the foundation-led campaign has been a home run.

On Monday the Lumina Foundation released its third annual report tracking progress toward the foundation’s goal for 60 percent of Americans to obtain a “high quality” degree or credential by 2025. The report found that 38.3 percent of working-age adults held at least a two-year degree in 2010, which is up from 37.9 in 2008.

At that pace, less than 47 percent of Americans will hold a degree by 2025, according to the report, which will leave the workforce short by 23 million needed degree-holders.

“We are nowhere near at the pace we need to be,” said Jamie Merisotis, Lumina’s president and CEO.

The good news, at least from the foundation’s perspective, is that their objective is now shared by many state leaders and President Obama (although the target percentage varies). Specific degree-holder goals are on the books in 36 states, either through laws, executive orders or statewide strategic plans, according to the report.

"The value of setting specific and measurable goals for college completion and attainment should not be underestimated," the report states, noting that because of these goals, factors that influence completion rates "are receiving much more attention at the federal, state and institutional levels."

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