New data released by the U.S. Department of Education shows reflect that the number of adults between the ages of 25 and 34 with a college degree or better has grown by half a point. In that age group, 39.3% of people have a post-secondary degree of some kind, which is an increase over the previous number of 38.8%. The Obama Administration has called on the state to increase this number to 60%, by the end of this decade.
Remarks the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan plans to deliver to the National Governors Association meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia, will highlight this achievement, but at the same time remind governors that the high hill is only half-climbed. The challenge now will be to maintain the growth over the next ten years, while at the same time keeping tuition low enough to make sure that those from low-income background aren’t priced out of higher education.
“To meet the president’s goal for America to become No. 1 in the world for college graduates all of us – the federal government, states, and institutions – must work together. We’ve made some progress, but the combination of deep state budget cuts and rising tuition prices is pushing an affordable college education out of reach for middle class families,” Duncan will say. “As the President has said, the countries that out-educate today will out-compete us tomorrow. The federal government has done a tremendous amount to increase the amount of aid available to students. But we need states and institutions to meet us halfway by doing more to keep college costs down.”
Since the financial crisis of 2008, nearly 40 states have been forced to cut funding for higher education in order to cover budget shortfalls. In the previous 2 years, on average, tuition in state schools has grown by 15%. Duncan plans to single out states that have managed to control tuition inflation at their public university systems while at the same time maintain or even grow their college completion rates.
He will also discuss the Administration’s record in keeping college affordable, including boosting Pell Grant funding, streamlining the student aid system, and maintaining interest rates on federal subsidized Stafford loans at 3.4 percent.
Finally, at the NGA meeting, Duncan and his predecessor Margaret Spellings will discuss the status of reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind) and the Administration’s ongoing efforts to offer temporary flexibility to states from the law in exchange for a commitment to high standards, teacher effectiveness and accountability.