Education Secretary Arne Duncan will on Friday urge governors to step up their efforts to control college costs and improve graduation rates, as the Education Department releases data showing the country far behind President Barack Obama’s goal to lead the world in college graduates by 2020.
“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 is set to say Friday at the National Governors Association summer meeting in Williamsburg, Va.
According to data released Thursday ahead of the meeting, the United States making slow progress toward the target Obama set in 2009 — for about 60 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds to have college degrees by 2020.
Nationwide in 2010, 39.3 percent in that age range — 5.9 million people — had earned college degrees, according to the Education Department’s figures. That’s up from 38.8 percent in 2009, but still far short of the president’s goal.
Duncan will say that while the federal government has done much to hold up its end of the bargain by expanding the Pell Grant program and other federal financial aid programs, “we need states and institutions to meet us halfway by doing more to keep college costs down.”
The state data show the District of Columbia — which has had an influx of young professionals in recent years — having the biggest percentage-point gain between 2009 and 2010, from 65.6 percent to 68.8 percent. Several states, including Delaware, Hawaii and Wyoming had their percentages fall by about 1 percent.
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