Many Americans are among those who have some college but no degree. They enrolled in college but for one reason or another had to stop out along the way. Their lack of degree or credential attainment affects them individually, the businesses they work for and the American economy in general.
Each year about two million people start pursuing a degree at a college or university. Eight years later many of them still do not have any kind of a degree or credential. In 2018 that added up to 36 million people who have some college but no degree.
These individuals with some college but no degree can help the country move towards Lumina Foundation’s Goal 2025, which is to have 60 percent of Americans hold degrees or some other meaningful credential. Reaching this goal is important for the US. Businesses need employees that can make them productive and profitable to compete in a global marketplace. Employees need the resources that allow them to be full participants in the economy.
Lumina Foundation estimates that to meet the talent demands of US businesses 16.4 million individuals will have to earn a degree or credential. One population group that can help this happen is 6.1 million of those who have some college but no degree. And some of them are close to attaining a degree. These people are “potential completers,” people who have achieved at least two years toward earning a degree.
Most potential completers stopped out of their education for financial reasons. Most students who leave college have to work to support themselves and go to school at the same time. Higher education costs are an obstacle for the majority: 60 percent said textbooks and other fees in addition to tuition affected them financially. About 70 percent of students who leave school do not have scholarships or financial aid.
However, stopping out of school doesn’t mean the end of personal goals to attain higher education: 65 percent of those with some college but no degree said they thought a lot about going back to school, and 24 percent thought some about it. Potential completers have already invested time and money in their education. Employer tuition benefits will help this group overcome financial issues that could make it difficult for them to return to higher education. Most adult students have family obligations that draw on their financial resources. Employer benefits such as tuition assistance will help them meet higher education expenses.
People with some college but no degree are one part of the US population that needs to attain higher education. Preparing the American workforce for the future will also require 5.5 million of the 63.8 adults with no postsecondary education to earn degrees or credentials. These millions are the “most underserved of all populations in the US,” according to Lumina and “Currently, these Americans have little or no realistic chance to obtain high-quality postsecondary credentials that lead to further education and employment.” This segment of the population is made of minorities, people with low socio-economic status and millions of people who have been displaced from jobs because they don’t have adequate skills. Providing education benefits for people in this group can greatly increase the number of highly-skilled employees businesses can rely on.
Adults currently in the labor market represent an opportunity to raise the percentage of Americans with valuable postsecondary education. Education benefits are a vital component of this opportunity. Tuition assistance is important to these workers to help them meet family, job and education financial responsibilities. Whether employees are potential completers with some college but no degree, or people just embarking on their higher education path, tuition benefits increase higher education accessibility. Greater access advances the benefits of tuition assistance from the individual, to the employer, and ultimately to the US economy.
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