Facts – Be Informed!

Why education is so important to our families, the economy and our country’s future 

Statistics indicate that with higher educational attainment, citizens will realize  overall better social, economic and personal life outcomes. Societies with higher educational attainment can expect:  greater civic and social engagement, higher rates of voter participation and volunteerism, healthier lifestyles, and less dependence on public assistance.

  • By 2020, 65% of all jobs will require post-secondary education and training, up from 28% in 1973.
  • In 1990, the U.S. ranked first in the world in 4-year degree attainment among 25-34 year olds. Today, the U.S  ranks 12th.
  • The median annual earning of full-time workers with a four year bachelor’s degree are 79% higher than the median for hose with only a high school diploma.
  • The unemployment rates for those without a high school diploma is 9%; a bachelor’s degree is 3.5% and a professional degree 1.9%.
  • Nationally, 89% of low-income first-generation students leave college within six years without a degree.  More than a quarter leave after their first year, four times the drop-out rate of higher income second generation students.

Source:  Education Pays 2013
See also: How College Shapes Lives;   gocollegenow.org/statistics

The economic imperative for increasing college graduation

We want to change the lives of Americans by ensuring access to educational opportunities. The simple fact is that educational attainment is the most assured route to an improved standard of living. Post-high school education is THE key factor in finding a meaningful and fruitful career. Such a career ensures not only prosperity for the educated, but also for their families and children.

Four out of five jobs lost during the recession were those requiring high school education or less. Those low-skill jobs are gone for good, replaced by jobs that require specialized training and skills.


Despite a lingering high unemployment rate, employers say that they lack qualified job applicants. By 2020, two-thirds of all jobs will require post-secondary education.

Young adults are continuing to enter the labor force ill prepared. At a mere 42%, the United States currently ranks thirteenth among developed countries in college attainment rates for young adults.

The facts about attainment equity

The postsecondary attainment rate for adults is 40 percent. But the facts about attainment are far more complex. Adults who identify as Asian are leading in attainment with 59 percent, while whites come in at 44 percent.
African-American attainment rates are as low as 27 percent. Native American and Latino Americans complete postsecondary programs at even lower rates, 23 percent and 20 percent, respectively.


See: Lumina Foundation’s equity imperative;  luminafoundation.org/facts-and-figures

It is important, therefore,  that a quality education is available for all students regardless of their family’s income level

  • All students should have access to a top quality education in a neighborhood public high school with the active support of the wider community.
  • It is critical that all public high school students graduate and are well-prepared to become engaged, educated and capable adults—contributing to the vitality of their families and communities, our city, and the world.
  • It is important that all neighborhoods are grounded by top quality public schools that are anchors in their communities.

Important Facts 

Local Context

  • Opportunity gaps exist in Chicago schools, leaving many neighborhood public high school students without full access to the resources that are fundamental to their academic and personal development. For example, the percentage of CPS students who enroll in a four-year college varies significantly by the type of public high school they attended:
  1. 40%  of all 2013 CPS grads, not including alternative school grads, are enrolled in four-year colleges  
  2. 71% of all 2013 CPS selective enrollment high school grads are enrolled in four-year colleges   
  3. 29% of all 2013 CPS neighborhood high school grads are enrolled in four-year colleges    generationallchicago.org/about-us
  • Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is the nation’s third largest school district with nearly 400,000 students, primarily African American (39.3%) and Hispanic (45.6%).*
  • The majority of CPS students live at the poverty level qualifying the entire CPS district for the federal free breakfast and lunch program effective in 2014.*
  • In 2014, 69.4% of CPS high school students graduated, an all-time high. But only 14% of CPS students graduated with a 4-year college degree by their mid-20s, below the national average of 18%.*
  • Under CPS budget plans for FY2016, 3 out of 4 schools would see their budgets cut. At Kelly High School, funding will decrease by $1.3 million on top of $4 million in cuts in FY2014. Compared to other schools in the district, this change in overall funding would be the 16th largest decrease out of 503 schools with budget cuts.  bit.ly/TribCPSBudgets 

*cps.edu/News/Press_releases/Pages/PR1_09_02_2014.aspx;   cps.edu/News/Press_releases/Pages/PR1_08_26_2014.aspxchicagotribune.com/chi-cps-freshmen-going-to-college-20141208-htmlstory.html

National Context**

  • Students from wealthy families graduate from college at more than twice the rate of students from poor families, including students with the same SAT scores.**
  • The big difference wasn’t how hard a student studied or how well they did in high school. The most important indicator was a student’s household income.**


Hispanic academic attainment

  • 33.5% of Hispanics 25 and over have not completed high school as of 2014, compared to 6.9% of non-Hispanic whites.+
  • 15.2% of Hispanics have at least a bachelor’s degree and 4.6% an advanced degree, as of 2014, compared to 35.6% and 13.3% for non-Hispanic whites.+
  • 70.3% of Hispanic high school graduates ages 16-24 were enrolled in college in 2012, compared to 65.7% for Whites.+
  • Over the past decade, the Hispanic high school dropout rate has dropped dramatically. The rate has reached a record low, dropping from 32% in 2000 to 14% in 2013 among those ages 18 to 24 years old.++

Hispanic higher education

  • 2.90 million Hispanics were enrolled in non-profit institutions in 2013, including Puerto Rico.+
  • Hispanics are making big inroads in college enrollment. The number of Hispanics ages 18 to 24 enrolled in a two- or four-year college has more than tripled since 1993. In 2013, 2.2 million Hispanics were enrolled in college, up from 728,000 in 1993 – a 201% increase. By comparison, college enrollment increased by 78% among blacks and 14% among whites over the same time period. Today, Hispanics are the largest minority group on U.S. college campuses.++
  • 47.1% (1,365,703) of Hispanic undergraduate students attend two-year institutions (compared to 35.2% of all undergraduates).+
  • Even though more Hispanics are getting a postsecondary education than ever before, Hispanics still lag other groups in obtaining a four-year degree. In 2013, among Hispanics ages 25 to 29, just 15% of Hispanics have a bachelor’s degree or higher. By comparison, among the same age group, about 40% of whites have a bachelor’s degree or higher (as do 20% of blacks and 60% of Asians).++
  • Another reason Hispanics lag in bachelor’s degrees is that nearly half who go to college attend a public two-year school, the highest share of any race or ethnicity. By comparison, among college-goers, 30% of whites, 32% of Asians and 34% of blacks go to a community college.++