Goal 2025 is designed to increase the proportion of Americans with high-quality college degrees, certificates or other credentials to 60 percent by 2025.
To reach Goal 2025, the nation needs to invest differently in a student-centered, outcomes-driven postsecondary education system. Without a change of course, America can expect incremental progress and continued, profound inequities in the educational attainment levels – and life opportunities – of large segments of our population.
State policymakers and higher education leaders can manage rapid changes in our society and industry with different public policies that can help drive and support increased postsecondary attainment. The Goal 2025 State Policy Agenda is focused on three core elements – elements that are diverse enough to respond to the unique opportunities and histories of each state and designed to yield a maximum return to the students, families and communities across America.
Making the Case for Goal 2025
Why Goal 2025?
Many are asking the question: Is broader attainment really necessary? The answer is yes. And for a variety of reasons: there are economic, social and equity imperatives that demand that a broader share of the American public obtain a postsecondary credential.
The first and most often cited reason is jobs. To participate in the middle class, to earn good wages that can support a family, Americans increasingly need a postsecondary certificate or degree. In fact, the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce projects that by 2020, 65% of U.S. jobs will require some form of postsecondary education. Furthermore, as the Great Recession between late 2007 and early 2010 made clear, what’s at stake is not just a matter of earnings potential, though that too is important, but of employment. During the recession, unemployment rates for those with postsecondary degrees were significantly lower than those without. A Georgetown University Center of Education and the Workforce report found that while jobs for those with a high school education or less declined by 5.6 million and jobs for those with an associate’s degree or some college declined by 1.75 million, the economy was adding jobs for those with bachelor’s degrees, albeit at a slower rate. Since the recession officially ended in January 2010, the economy has added jobs for those with some college or an associate’s degree and for those with a bachelor’s degree, but is still losing jobs for those with a high school education or less. The wage gap between those with a postsecondary credential and those without remains significant.
States’ incomes, business climate, and quality of life indicators improve with increases in educational attainment. Good jobs power GDP, which is the leading indicator of a nation’s ability to provide a high standard of living, including increased health, reduced crime and poverty, and increased civic participation. Further, workers with good jobs provide these same benefits to their families and communities—better health, more participation in the democratic process by voting and volunteering. Too few of our nation’s citizens can access employment opportunities that afford them the best chances of earning a living wage and contributing to the economic and social health of their communities and the nation.
In addition, there are significant gaps in attainment among different racial groups and between children from lower and higher income families. These exacerbate existing income inequality and pose a threat to the health of our overall democracy. Fulfillment of the values we hold most dear—requires an educated citizenry and demands attention to the gaping inequalities that currently exist.
For more about making the economic, social and equality case for increased attainment, see:
- Lumina Foundation Strategic Plan 2013 to 2016
- The College Board’s Education Pays 2013
- Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, The College Advantage: Weathering the Economic Storm
- U.S. Department of the Treasury and U.S. Department of Education, The Economics of Higher Education