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Community College Fact Sheet

College Access and Success

More young people are going to college today than ever before:

  • More than 80 percent of today's high school graduates go to college within eight years of graduating from high school. And there is little race gap in college attendance. Eighty-three percent of white high school graduates go to college and about 80 percent of black and Hispanic high school graduates do. source
  • Almost half of all college students go to community college. source

But many of them fail to get degrees:

  • Forty-two percent of students who start college with the goal of earning a bachelor's degree still do not have one six years later. source
  • College degree completion rates vary significantly by race and ethnicity. Approximately 67 percent of Asians/Pacific Islanders who attended college graduated with a bachelor's degree or its equivalent within six years, compared with 60 percent of whites, 49 percent of Hispanics, 42 percent of Blacks, and 40 percent of American Indians/Alaska Natives. source

The United States is falling behind the rest of the world in terms of the percentage of its population with a college degree:

  • The adult population of the United States still ranks among the world leaders in the percentage who have college degrees (39 percent have an associate's degree or higher. Only Canadians are better educated.) But the rest of the world is doing a better job educating its younger generation of workers. Among 25- to 34-year-olds, the U.S. population has slipped to 10th in the percentage who have an associate's degree or higher - behind Canada, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Ireland, Belgium, Norway, France and Denmark. source
  • Six countries are doing a better job than the United States getting young students (18-24 years old) to go to college (Korea, Greece, Poland, Ireland, Belgium and Hungary). And lots of countries are doing a better job in terms of college degree completion, including Portugal, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom and France. source

Latinos and Higher Education

Latinos are the fastest-growing segment of the population in the United States:

  • By the year 2025, nearly one-quarter of the nation's college-age population will be Latino. source
  • By 2050, the Hispanic population is projected to nearly triple. Nearly one in three U.S. residents will be Hispanic. (By contrast, non-Hispanic whites are expected to make up 46 percent of the population; blacks will be 15 percent, Asians will be 9 percent.) source

Latinos are the least likely to have college degrees:

  • Hispanics lag behind every other population group. Thirteen percent of Hispanics in the United States have a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to 53 percent of Asians, 33 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 20 percent of blacks. source

Most Latinos who go to college go to community college:

  • More than half (55 percent) of Hispanic college students go to community college. They are the most likely of all racial or ethnic groups to choose community college. source

Community Colleges

Most community college students fail to get a degree:

  • Fewer than 46 percent of students who enter community college with the goal of earning a degree or certificate have met their goal six years later. source
  • Community colleges typically lose about half of their students prior to the students' second year of classes. Some leave for good. Others drop out and come back. Still others remain in school but struggle with remedial courses and don't ever progress to college-level work. Only 15 percent of students who earn no credits in their first semester return the following semester. source
  • Nearly 80 percent of Hispanics who begin at community colleges have not completed any degree five years later. source

Community colleges are the largest single sector of American higher education:

  • Nearly half of all American undergraduates go to community college. source
  • Half of all people who get bachelor's degrees start their college education at a community college. source
  • Enrollment at community colleges has increased five-fold since 1965, while enrollment in four-year colleges has doubled. source
  • Nearly 80 percent of first responders in the United States (police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians) get their training at community college. source
  • More than 50 percent of new nurses and other health-care workers are trained at community colleges. source

The Economics of A College Degree

  • A community college graduate earns on average almost double what a high school dropout earns ($37,990 compared to $19,915). source
  • People with a high school degree earn an average of $31,286 while those with a bachelor's degree earn an average of $57,181. source
  • Half of the new jobs created in the United States in the next 10 years will require at least some postsecondary education. source
  • People with more education tend to have higher salaries, higher savings, more leisure time, better health and longer life expectancy. source


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