Widening Achievement Gap Hurts U.S. Competitiveness, Report Says

The United States' global competitiveness is suffering in part because recent policies at all levels of education have widened the achievement gap between rich and poor, according to a report released on Monday by the Council on Foreign Relations.

The report, part of the council's "Renewing America" series, says that stalled expansion of access to community colleges and student-loan repayment plans that favor wealthy borrowers have perpetuated a class divide, increased dropout rates, and curbed college attainment.

"The concrete changes that have been made to federal postsecondary policy—new debt forgiveness and tax breaks—have tilted a game field that was already in favor of wealthier students even more so, all at a cost to taxpayers," the report says.

As a result, the percentage of 25- to 34-year-old Americans who have completed college has fallen to 13th in the world, while older Americans earned college degrees at a rate that put the country third internationally. The slip puts the country's national security at risk, the council warns.

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