A Really Ambitious Goal


As a part of President Obama’s American Graduation Initiative, he set a goal that the United States would have the highest college graduation rate of any nation in the world by 2020. He also set a goal of producing an additional 5 million community college graduates in the next ten years.

While American colleges have yet to figure out how (or even if) they plan to get there, the Chronicle of Higher Education took a look at the numbers to figure out how much each state would have to improve in order to meet the American Graduation Initiative goal.

If each state continued to produce its current portion of undergraduate degrees, the Chronicle broke down the increases needed (see the chart here) by total additional graduates, additional graduates needed each year, and percentage increase.

Achieving the goal would produce 13 million new graduates, a 5.3 percent increase. It’s mostly up to American colleges to get there. Obama, of course, will be out of office by 2020.

Good luck with that. Interestingly, the state that would need to improve its college graduation rate the most is Nevada. The silver state would need to produce more than 1000 college graduates every year (an almost 6.5 percent increase). It’s not doing so well thus far; Nevada is now drastically reducing state funding for higher education.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer