National data

    Our nation faces an unprecedented and increasing need for talent, and higher education is the key to meeting that need. That’s why Lumina Foundation has committed all of its resources to the effort to reach Goal 2025. We want to ensure that, by the year 2025, 60 percent of Americans hold a college degree, certificate or high-quality postsecondary credential.

    Each year in this detailed report, we track the nation’s progress toward that goal, focusing mainly on the percentage of the nation’s working-age population (ages 25-64) holding a two- or four-year college degree. According to the most recent available data (2012), 39.4 percent of these working-age Americans have a two- or four-year degree — an increase of 0.7 percent from last year’s reported rate of 38.7 percent.

    This increase is encouraging — particularly because it reflects even greater progress in higher education attainment among young adults (ages 25-34). In 2012, the attainment rate among young adults was 40.9 percent — a one-year increase of 0.8 percent, and more than three percentage points higher than in 2008.

    The trend is positive, but the goal is still distant. Much more work is required of us all.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 33.1 percent of Alabama’s 2.5 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 31.9 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is below the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 37 percent of Alaska’s 402,000 working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 34.4 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is below the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 36.7 percent of Arizona’s 3.3 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 35.8 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is below the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 29.3 percent of Arkansas’ 1.5 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 28.2 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is well below the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 39.7 percent of California’s 20.2 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 38.9 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is slightly above the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 47.5 percent of Colorado’s 2.8 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, a slight increase from last year’s rate of 47 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is above the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 47.5 percent of Connecticut’s 1.9 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 46.4 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is above the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 38.4 percent of Delaware’s 478,000 working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 37.6 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is below the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 38.1 percent of Florida’s 10 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 37 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is below the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 37.4 percent of Georgia’s 5.3 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 36.4 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is below the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 42.6 percent of Hawaii’s 742,000 working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 41.6 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is above the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 36.1 percent of Idaho’s 802,000 working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four- year college degree, a slight decrease from last year’s rate of 36.5 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is below the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 42.5 percent of Illinois’ 6.9 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 41.7 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is above the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 34.4 percent of Indiana’s 3.4 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 33.8 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is below the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 41.8 percent of Iowa’s 1.6 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, a slight increase from last year’s rate of 41.1 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is above the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 41.3 percent of Kansas’ 1.5 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 40.7 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is above the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 31.7 percent of Kentucky’s 2.3 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 30.8 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is below the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 29.1 percent of Louisiana’s 2.4 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 27.9 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is well below the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 39 percent of Maine’s 721,000 working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, a decrease from last year’s rate of 40 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is below the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 45.5 percent of Maryland’s 3.2 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, a slight increase from last year’s rate of 45.4 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is above the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 50.5 percent of Massachusetts’ 3.6 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, a slight decrease from last year’s rate of 50.8 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is well above the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 37.4 percent of Michigan’s 5.2 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 36.8 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is below the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 47.7 percent of Minnesota’s 2.9 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 46.6 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is above the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 31.1 percent of Mississippi’s 1.5 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 30.3 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is below the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 36.6 percent of Missouri’s 3.1 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, a slight increase from last year’s rate of 36.4 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is below the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 39.8 percent of Montana’s 528,000 working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 39.2 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is just above the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 43 percent of Nebraska’s 950,000 working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 41.5 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is above the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 30.1 percent of Nevada’s 1.5 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, a slight increase from last year’s rate of 30 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is below the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 46.7 percent of New Hampshire’s 726,000 working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 45.8 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is above the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 45.8 percent of New Jersey’s 4.8 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 45.1 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is above the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 35.1 percent of New Mexico’s 1.1 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 33.9 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is below the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 45.1 percent of New York’s 10.6 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, a slight increase from last year’s rate of 44.6 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is above the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 38.4 percent of North Carolina’s 5.1 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, a slight increase from last year’s rate of 38.2 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is below the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 45.6 percent of North Dakota’s 357,000 working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 44.7 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is above the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 36.5 percent of Ohio’s 6.1 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 35.5 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is below the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 32.9 percent of Oklahoma’s 1.95 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, a slight decrease from last year’s rate of 33 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is below the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 39.8 percent of Oregon’s 2.1 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 39 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is slightly above the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 39.7 percent of Pennsylvania’s 6.7 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 38.6 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is slightly above the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 43.2 percent of Rhode Island’s 553,000 working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, unchanged from last year’s rate. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is above the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 36.1 percent of South Carolina’s 2.5 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 34.2 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is below the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 39.6 percent of South Dakota’s 423,000 working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, a slight increase from last year’s rate of 39.4 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is just above the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 33.3 percent of Tennessee’s 3.4 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 32.1 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is below the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 34.6 percent of Texas’ 13.6 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, a slight increase from last year’s rate of 34.5 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is below the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 41.4 percent of Utah’s 1.4 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 40.3 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is above the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 47 percent of Vermont’s 336,000 working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 46.2 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is above the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 45.3 percent of Virginia’s 4.4 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, a slight increase from last year’s rate of 45 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is above the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 42.8 percent of Washington’s 3.7 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, a decrease from last year’s rate of 43.3 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is above the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 27.8 percent of West Virginia’s 985,000 working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, unchanged from last year’s rate. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is well below the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 40.9 percent of Wisconsin’s 3 million working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 39.6 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is above the national average of 39.4 percent.

    According to the 2012 Census figures, 37 percent of Wyoming’s 306,000 working-age adults (ages 25-64) hold a two- or four-year college degree, an increase from last year’s rate of 36.2 percent. The state’s rate of higher education attainment is below the national average of 39.4 percent.

    How can Alabama and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Alaska and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Arizona and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Arkansas and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can California and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Colorado and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Connecticut and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Delaware and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Florida and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Georgia and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Hawaii and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Idaho and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Illinois and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Indiana and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Iowa and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Kansas and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Kentucky and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Louisiana and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Maine and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Maryland and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Massachusetts and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Michigan and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Minnesota and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Mississippi and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Missouri and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Montana and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Nebraska and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Nevada and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can New Hampshire and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can New Jersey and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can New Mexico and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can New York and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can North Carolina and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can North Dakota and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Ohio and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Oklahoma and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Oregon and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Pennsylvania and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Rhode Island and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can South Carolina and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can South Dakota and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Tennessee and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Texas and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Utah and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Vermont and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Virginia and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Washington and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can West Virginia and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Wisconsin and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    How can Wyoming and other states increase attainment to the levels they need? Lumina has identified three steps that states can and should take to produce real increases in attainment:

    1. Improve the quality of student outcomes in terms of completion, learning and employment.
    2. Align investments with state priorities and student needs.
    3. Create smarter pathways for students.

    More information on this agenda to increase attainment can be found at strategylabs.luminafoundation.org/higher-education-state-policy-agenda, including concrete action steps based on evidence and experience about what works in states.

    The nation’s cities and metropolitan regions must become hubs of action in the drive to increase higher education attainment. According to recent Census figures (2011), 82 percent of Americans live in cities or suburbs, and the nation’s trend toward urbanization shows no sign of abating. Simply put, if we want to boost attainment, we must look first and work hardest in those places with the most students.

    What’s more, we at Lumina believe the nation’s metro areas are well suited for this work. They represent fertile ground for growing the kind of collaborations among political, business, education, philanthropic and community-based leaders that can have significant impact on college attainment.

    After all, creating an educated workforce is a vital survival strategy for any city — which is why it makes good sense to adopt a metro-region strategy to boost college attainment. It all starts with understanding where you are (knowing your region’s data) and setting a goal for where you need to be. We hope the data provided here can put more cities and metropolitan regions on the strategic path that leads to the achievement of Goal 2025.

    As the nation strives to reach Goal 2025 — to ensure that 60 percent of Americans hold high-quality degrees, certificates and other postsecondary credentials by 2025 — it’s important that we pay close attention to demographic trends. After all, we need a system of higher education that is designed to properly serve all students — not just those on campuses and in lecture halls today, but those who will be learning tomorrow, in a variety of venues using all types of delivery models.

    The fact is, younger Americans differ significantly from older citizens in terms of race, ethnicity and family income. Simply put, younger citizens — that is, the people who will soon constitute the bulk of our society — are more diverse and less well off financially than older Americans. This means they face higher barriers to postsecondary success and are traditionally underrepresented in higher education.

    Clearly, then, if we hope to boost postsecondary attainment overall, it is critically and increasingly important that we raise rates of participation and attainment among younger Americans.

    Statistics show that this is indeed happening. Attainment rates in the 25-34 age group are increasing, and at a rate higher than that of older Americans. In 2012, degree attainment for young adults was 40.9 percent (compared to 39.4 percent among those 25-64 years old). This 40.9 percent figure is nearly a full percentage-point increase (0.8 percent) over the 2011 rate and more than three percentage points higher than in 2008 — so the trend is encouraging.

    Still, this trend must be maintained — and progress accelerated — if we are to reach the 60 percent goal by 2025. That’s why continued focus on the young-adult population is a must.

    Percentage of adults (25-64) with at least an associate degree, by metropolitan region

    Click the column headings to sort accordingly

    Rank By
    Population
    Area Name Rate Population

    Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010-12 Census 3-Year Estimates

    Note: This map denotes Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). The term MSA refers to a large population nucleus, together with adjacent communities having a high degree of social and economic integration with that core. MSAs comprise one or more entire counties, except in New England, where cities and towns are the basic geographic units. The federal Office of Management and Budget defines MSAs for purposes of collecting, tabulating and publishing federal data. These definitions result from applying published standards to Census Bureau data.

    Degree attainment among young adults

    Choose below to see the proportion of 25- to 34-year-olds with at least an associate degree.

    Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey

    Close

    Download eBook

    Add this site
    to your homescreen

    It looks like you are using an device. Follow these simple instructions to add the Stronger Nation report to your homescreen for easy access.

    To top