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This Perspective summarizes recent trends in young peoples' entrance into and completion of postsecondary educational programs. Education is an important pathway into well-paying jobs and the American middle class.

Education levels have been rising for the past 50 years, including large gains for many demographic groups. But declining public support for higher education, increasing costs of college attendance, and low college completion rates threaten young adults' pathway to a two- or four-year college degree. Additional research is needed on how to bolster college success and improve our understanding of alternative college credentials.

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Funding for this research was provided by gifts from RAND supporters and income from operations. The research was conducted within the RAND Lowy Family Middle-Class Pathways Center with RAND Education and Labor.

This publication is part of the RAND Corporation Perspective series. RAND Perspectives present expert insights on timely policy issues. All RAND Perspectives undergo peer review to ensure high standards for quality and objectivity.

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