How much does college matter for getting ahead in America? Having a postsecondary education —broadly defined as a credential beyond a high school diploma—continues to be one of the most important factors in getting a good job and advancing in the workforce. By one estimate, 64 percent of jobs in 2018 will require more than a high school diploma, although not necessarily a four-year degree. For each year of postsecondary education, an adult is more likely to be employed, earn family-sustaining wages, lead a healthier life, and have children who are better prepared to succeed in school. The country, too, benefits from a more educated workforce. Studies of the return on government investments in education (at all levels, not just K-12) show that it is a sound use of public funds. Critical federal programs, such as funding for student aid and job training, can help lower-skilled adults and youth access postsecondary education, but important policy choices that support their success and completion can be made at the state and local levels.
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