Published in The Washington Post

By Jeffrey Selingo

When you look at the national statistics on college graduation rates, there are two trends that stand out.

The first is that there are many students who start college but never get their degree. More than 40 percent of students who start at a four-year college leave without a credential. What’s more worrisome is that the largest share of Americans with some college credit and no degree are young adults. There are some 12.5 million 20-somethings with college credit and no credential, according to the National Student Clearinghouse.

The second trend is that whether students graduate or drop out of college depends almost entirely on one factor: their parents’ income. Children from families who earn more than $90,000 a year have a 1 in 2 chance of getting a bachelor’s degree by age 24, but that falls to a 1 in 17 chance for those earning less than $35,000.

The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to address inequality and build a future grounded in justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

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