A Stronger Nation Through Higher Education
A Detailed Look at Postsecondary Attainment - Nationally and in Every State

This is Lumina Foundation’s fifth annual issue of A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, our signature report on progress toward Goal 2025. In this report, we measure progress in the higher education attainment rate — the percentage of the nation’s adult, working-age population holding a high-quality postsecondary credential.

Lumina defines high-quality credentials as those that have clear and transparent learning outcomes leading to further education and employment. Most of these credentials are two- and four-year college degrees, and this report includes a detailed breakdown of their attainment by Americans.

In 2012, the most recent year for which data are available, the proportion of Americans between the ages of 25 and 64 with a two- or four-year college degree was 39.4 percent — an increase of 0.7 of a percentage point from last year’s reported rate of 38.7 percent.

This is the largest year-over-year increase in degree attainment since Lumina began these reports. Last year, the rate was 0.4 of a percentage point higher than the prior year; the two years before that, it increased by only 0.2 of a percentage point per year. Clearly, the rate at which degree attainment is increasing is accelerating.