Feds take more steps to boost U.S. college graduation rate

ED announced $20 million in grants to improve postsecondary success.

Vice President Joe Biden on March 22 unveiled an administration plan to involve governors directly in efforts to boost college graduation rates, while providing millions in financial incentives for colleges to do the same.

Speaking at an education summit in Washington, D.C., Biden suggested each governor hold a college completion summit, and he proposed a list of ideas to help them. President Barack Obama’s goal for the United States to have the best college graduation rate in the world by 2020 is “a necessity,” Biden said. “This is not an aspiration.”

The administration’s College Completion Toolkit offers seven “low-cost or no-cost” strategies—with specific examples of how each is already being used in some places—to improve college completion:

• Set goals and develop an action plan.

• Link state funding to college success in boosting completion rates.

• Align high school standards with college entrance and placement standards.

• Make it easier for students to transfer.

• Use data to drive decision making.

• Accelerate learning and reduce costs.

• Target adults, especially those with some college but no degree.

Korea has the best college graduation rate, with 58 percent of its population ages 25-34 having finished college; the U.S. is in a four-way tie for ninth place at 42 percent, according to a study published last year by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

To regain the top spot, the Education Department (ED) projects the nation will need to hike its completion rate by 50 percent, which translates into an additional 8 million students earning associate’s or bachelor’s degrees by the end of the decade.