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Share of U.S. Adults Holding a College Degree on Rise, Report Finds

A report issued this week by the Lumina Foundation finds 39.4 percent of Americans ages 25 to 64 have a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from 37.8 percent reported last year.

The most recent figures in A Stronger Nation Through Higher Education reflect education levels in 2012. While encouraging, Lumina still finds equity gaps in completion rates, and notes that some other countries surpass the United States in higher education attainment.

(The Lumina Foundation supports coverage of P-16 alignment in Education Week.)

About 59 percent of working-age Asian Americans and 44 percent of whites hold a degree, according to the report. Meanwhile, 28 percent of black adults, 23 percent of Native Americans, and 20 percent of Latinos have a college education. College-going rates are increasing for all groups, with enrollment increasing from 62 percent to 67 percent last year for blacks, and Latinos going up from about 60 percent to 67 percent.

The United States ranks 11th globally in postsecondary education attainment, the report finds.

Within the United States, there is wide variation in college completion by region. While 50.5 percent of adults in Massachusetts and 47.7 percent in Minnesota have degrees, just 27.8 percent of those living in West Virginia and 29.1 percent of adults in Louisiana have achieved the same level of education.

Lumina has set a goal of 60 percent of Americans holding a high-quality degree or credential by 2025.

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