Archived Information

New State-by-State College Attainment Numbers Show Progress Toward 2020 Goal

Duncan to Voice Concern for Funding Cuts, Rising Tuition and Inefficiency at NGA Conference

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Press Office, (202) 401-1576, press@ed.gov


In remarks prepared for delivery to the summer meeting of the National Governors Association in Williamsburg, Va., on Friday, July 13, Education Secretary Arne Duncan will praise governors for increasing college completion but will also challenge states to maintain support for higher education while urging colleges and universities to hold down tuition.

"Every capable, hard-working, and responsible student should be able to afford to go to college. That's not a Democratic dream or a Republican one. It's the American Dream," Duncan will say.

Today, the Administration released new numbers showing college attainment state-by-state based on census bureau data from 2009 to 2010. All told, the percentage of 25-34 year olds with some kind of postsecondary degree rose half a percentage point from 38.8 percent to 39.3 percent. America used to be No. 1 in the world for the percentage of adults with college degrees but has recently slid to 16th. President Obama has called for America to increase the number of degree-holders to 60 percent by the end of the decade.

"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."

While 40 states have cut funding for higher education in the past year and tuition at four-year public universities has risen 15 percent on average in the last two years, Duncan plans to highlight states that are doing a good job of controlling costs and boosting completion.

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.

Below is a list of the state-by-state figures the Administration is releasing today:

State Graduates as of 2009 Graduates as of 2010 Graduates as of 2020
Alabama 188,258 31.1% 189,259 31.5% 262,000-337,000 (47%-60%)
Alaska 30,769 32.0% 31,967 32.9% 57,000-75,000 (45%-60%)
Arizona 302,190 32.0% 283,867 33.0% 506,000-631,000 (48%-60%)
Arkansas 107,516 28.4% 105,468 28.6% 150,000-216,000 (42%-60%)
California 1,993,484 37.6% 1,998,766 37.9% 3,650,000-3,880,000 (56%-60%)
Colorado 297,540 41.9% 307,961 43.3% 445,000-468,000 (60%-63%)
Connecticut 185,537 46.1% 190,044 45.9% 295,000-339,000 (60%-69%)
Delaware 43,473 38.5% 41,283 37.2% 65,000-68,000 (57%-60%)
D.C. 71,311 65.6% 82,098 68.8% 54,000-88,000 (60%-98%)
Florida 836,034 36.3% 816,946 36.2% 1,480,000-1,630,000 (54%-60%)
Georgia 484,637 35.6% 468,360 35.5% 785,000-886,000 (53%-60%)
Hawaii 76,212 41.5% 73,472 40.5% 118,000-123,000 (60%-63%)
Idaho 67,828 33.4% 66,871 32.7% 107,000-130,000 (49%-60%)
Illinois 785,035 44.6% 798,362 45.3% 1,100,000-1,220,000 (60%-66%)
Indiana 291,830 35.2% 297,250 36.1% 452,000-514,000 (53%-60%)
Iowa 165,534 45.5% 172,115 45.5% 213,000-241,000 (60%-68%)
Kansas 153,494 42.2% 157,023 42.3% 220,000-226,000 (60%-62%)
Kentucky 182,009 32.3% 185,574 33.3% 272,000-336,000 (49%-60%)
Louisiana 175,412 29.5% 183,852 30.3% 265,000-363,000 (44%-60%)
Maine 53,995 36.7% 53,357 37.2% 96,000-101,000 (57%-60%)
Maryland 337,547 45.5% 339,891 45.5% 582,000-660,000 (60%-68%)
Massachusetts 456,451 54.3% 454,219 54.3% 562,000-760,000 (60%-81%)
Michigan 434,002 36.0% 434,937 37.2% 768,000-858,000 (54%-60%)
Minnesota 342,770 49.8% 350,909 49.8% 488,000-599,000 (60%-74%)
Mississippi 116,780 30.7% 120,894 32.1% 161,000-212,000 (46%-60%)
Missouri 297,949 39.0% 300,234 39.3% 465,000-485,000 (57%-60%)
Montana 43,180 37.1% 48,068 40.3% 64,000-68,000 (57%-60%)
Nebraska 102,075 44.0% 107,058 44.2% 131,000-143,000 (60%-66%)
Nevada 107,920 28.1% 109,514 28.4% 179,000-254,000 (42%-60%)
New Hampshire 66,977 45.5% 65,715 46.0% 122,000-139,000 (60%-69%)
New Jersey 504,371 45.9% 520,299 47.2% 751,000-864,000 (60%-69%)
New Mexico 77,513 28.9% 74,586 28.7% 102,000-145,000 (42%-60%)
New York 1,280,585 49.2% 1,302,196 49.6% 1,670,000-2,050,000 (60%-74%)
North Carolina 461,833 37.9% 462,802 37.6% 796,000-840,000 (57%-60%)
North Dakota 40,813 50.9% 43,893 50.8% 46,000-58,000 (60%-76%)
Ohio 550,920 37.6% 537,219 38.0% 845,000-905,000 (56%-60%)
Oklahoma 154,440 31.4% 152,441 30.8% 214,000-274,000 (47%-60%)
Oregon 193,714 37.7% 194,831 37.6% 326,000-346,000 (57%-60%)
Pennsylvania 655,993 43.5% 654,558 43.9% 986,000-1,080,000 (60%-66%)
Rhode Island 56,321 42.8% 53,777 42.5% 96,000-104,000 (60%-65%)
South Carolina 207,298 35.5% 205,399 35.2% 313,000-355,000 (53%-60%)
South Dakota 40,807 41.4% 42,317 42.2% 55,000-58,000 (60%-64%)
Tennessee 269,737 32.1% 268,430 32.8% 421,000-521,000 (49%-60%)
Texas 1,123,980 31.7% 1,143,206 32.2% 1,880,000-2,380,000 (47%-60%)
Utah 163,336 38.1% 168,410 38.5% 224,000-235,000 (57%-60%)
Vermont 29,740 43.7% 30,737 44.5% 55,000-63,000 (60%-68%)
Virginia 462,259 44.0% 477,103 44.6% 749,000-824,000 (60%-66%)
Washington 379,425 41.6% 373,615 40.9% 655,000-676,000 (60%-62%)
West Virginia 64,090 28.9% 64,730 29.5% 85,000-117,000 (43%-60%)
Wisconsin 282,255 40.8% 291,007 41.3% 458,000-462,000 (60%-60%)
Wyoming 25,020 35.4% 24,821 34.2% 31,000-36,000 (53%-60%)
National 15,822,199 38.8% 15,921,711 39.3% 26,200,000-27,000,000 (58%-60%)

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau: American Community Survey (ACS), Education Attainment Ages 25-34, Three-Year Averaged Estimates for 2007-2009 and 2008-2010); and U.S. Census Bureau: 2020 Population Projections.

Note: Between 2009 and 2010, the attainment rate may have increased even though the number of degree holders decreased, and vice versa, due to changes in the state's total population ages 25-34.

Methodology: To be first in the world in the proportion of college graduates with an associate's degree or higher, the U.S. must increase the national attainment rate by 50 percent from its current level by 2020. This would lift the nation as a whole to a 60 percent college attainment rate. The current college attainment rate is 39 percent as measured by the ACS (while international comparisons use the Current Population Survey (CPS), CPS does not yield state-by-state data). While some states with low college attainment rates will need to at least double their attainment rates, states with higher attainment rates are nearer to the national attainment goal of 60 percent and thus do not need as much of an increase. The table above shows two scenarios—on the one hand, a state's attainment rate if it increased its current attainment rate by 50 percent; and on the other, the achievement of a statewide attainment rate of 60 percent. The resulting number of degree holders is calculated by applying the 60 percent rate and the 50 percent increase to the Census projections of the adult population aged 25-34 in 2020. The national projection is calculated in the same way rather than as a sum of the numbers.