Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Record Number Getting College Degree

Completion of four-year college degrees is up sharply in the past five years among the nation’s young adults. In 2012, a record one-third of adults ages 25 to 29 have attained at least a bachelor’s degree. As recently as 2006 fewer than 30% of 25- to 29-year-olds had finished at least a bachelor’s degree.

College attainment reached a record level in 2012 among most of the major racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. Among whites ages 25 to 29, 40% had completed at least a bachelor’s degree in 2012, up from 39% in 2011 and 20% in 1971.

Blacks and Hispanics were much less likely than whites to have finished at least a bachelor’s degree in 2012, but their levels of college attainment also reached unprecedented levels. In 2012, 23% of African Americans ages 25 to 29 had completed at least a bachelor’s degree, an increase from 20% in 2011.

Bachelor’s degree attainment among young Hispanics increased to 15% in 2012, up from 13% in 2011. College completion among Asians ages 25 to 29 remained far above other groups in 2012 (60%), but this level was below the level observed among Asians in 2004 (61%).

Rising college completion rates within racial and ethnic groups of young adults suggest that changing demographics in the U.S. are not inhibiting an overall increase in educational attainment. Read More