When Barack Obama became U.S. President in 2008, he set the goal
that by 2020 America should be the country with the greatest share
of higher education graduates compared to total population.
Worldwide, the U.S. ranks only on place 16 far behind South Korea
with its 63% of young adults having earned a college degree.
Long way to go
Recently published data by the Department of Education indicates
that Obama has still a long way to go to realize his ambition.
Between 2009 and 2010, degree attainment for 25-34 year olds
increased slightly from 38.8% to 39.3%. To meet Obama's goal, the
country has to educate an additional 10 million students aged
25-35, lifting the overall level to over 60%.
In a speech to the National Governors Association, Education
Secretary Arne Duncan commented that "the countries that
out-educate today will out-compete us tomorrow. The federal
government has done a tremendous amount to increase the amount of
aid available to students. But we need states and institutions to
meet us halfway by doing more to keep college costs down."
Suffocating student debt
"Every capable, hard-working, and responsible student should be
able to afford to go to college. That's not a Democratic dream or a
Republican one. It's the American Dream," Duncan said. "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."
Alongside tuition fees, student loans are of a particular
concern in the American higher education sector. In 2010/2011
student loan debt was totaling almost $920.000.000.000 surpassing
credit card debt for the first time.