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31 Million in Higher Education Limbo: Some College, No Degree


Jul. 29, 2014 US News & World Report

At a time when policymakers are intensifying their calls to get more students in and through college, 31 million adults are stuck in limbo – having completed some college – but not enough to earn a degree, according to a new report from the National Student Clearinghouse.

The report examined the demographics and attendance behaviors of adults who enrolled in college within the last 20 years, but left without completing a certificate or degree program. Of those individuals, about 4 million – or just more than 12 percent – are potential graduates who have at least two years’ worth of progress.

President Barack Obama has repeatedly said it’s a goal of his administration to make strides toward increasing the country’s adult college attainment rate to 60 percent by the year 2020. The Lumina Foundation hopes to accomplish the same by the year 2025. The United States, which in 1990 was the world leader in college attainment, now ranks 12th among 25- to 34-year-olds, at 43 percent.

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