The Truth is Powerful

Building a College-Educated America Requires Closing Racial Gaps in Attainment

Getty/Los Angeles Times/Allen J. Schaben Students line up to receive their diplomas during a graduation ceremony at sunset in Santa Monica, California, June 2013. For the first time ever, half of the young adults in the United States have earned a college degree. From 2009 to 2019, the share of adults between the ages of 25 and 34 who earned an associate degree or higher rose from 41 percent to 50 percent . In 2017, the last time the Center for American Progress evaluated national attainment, degree attainment was just below the 50 percent mark . While hitting this milestone is good news and increases have occurred across demographic groups, there hasn’t been a great deal of progress in closing large and persistent racial equity gaps.

Closing these gaps must be a high priority for the Biden administration, states, and colleges as they seek to build a more educated nation. Over the past decade, Black and Latino young adults experienced the most dramatic growth in attainment; but they also started off with the lowest attainment rates compared with other racial or ethnic groups, and they remain the least likely to earn a college degree. Moreover, the attainment rates among Black […]

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