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Most people want a college degree, but reaching that goal remains a challenge, report says


Almost 90 percent of high school graduates spend some time in college, but only 40 percent of those students complete a bachelor's degree in four years and 60 percent in six, according to a new report about undergraduate education.

According to "A Primer on the College Student Journey," a report released Thursday by the Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education: In addition to improving retention and graduation rates, colleges must address disparities in educational attainment associated with race and ethnicity, income level, and gender. And cost and debt remain concerns.

The commission, comprising national leaders in education, business and government, was established by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and funded with $2.2 million from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

The group will spend several years studying how well students are being served by higher education and will seek to identify higher education's  challenges and opportunities.

The commission requested the report, which includes reams of data showing major trends in undergraduate education.

"Our ambition is to help the American population, the American people, to appreciate what college education means now in the United States, which is something much broader and more complex than what a number of us might have thought a few years ago," Michael McPherson, co-chair of the committee and president of the Spencer Foundation, told Inside Higher Ed.

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Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education

Roger W. Ferguson and Michael S. McPherson