The Credential Differential

March 16, 2012

The Public Return to Increasing Postsecondary Credential Attainment

By 2025, the United States will need to produce about 24 million additional credentialed adults to remain globally competitive with leading Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries. Right now, the nation is losing ground and falling far behind. And yet, public investments in increasing the number of adults with a postsecondary credential remain stagnant.

Failure to prioritize investments in postsecondary education will leave states and the nation short millions of credentials and ultimately mean billions in lost revenue and increased public expenditures. If the United States meets the 2025 goals, the average annual per capita income would increase by approximately $1,400 in 2025, and federal revenues would be $67 billion, about six times higher than the estimated costs of increasing credential attainment, which is $9.8 billion. And state revenues for 2025 would be $64 billion, which is triple the estimated state cost for increasing the credential attainment of $21 billion. The bottom line is, even in these tough economic times when there are difficult fiscal decisions to be made, increasing credential attainment pays off for individuals, families, communities, states and the country.

But every state is unique. To help policymakers and advocates understand where their state is comparatively and what it will mean to increase the number of postsecondary credentials attained, CLASP and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) have developed a Return on Investment Dashboard. Using Census Bureau, National Center for Education Statistics and Department of Education data, this dynamic tool projects the short- and long-term effects of either maintaining the status quo or increasing investments and the number of credentialed adults in our economy.



Executive Summary - Credential Differential

Full Paper - Credential Differential

Credential Improvement Rate State Rankings Fact Sheet 

Visit U.S. Fact Sheet & Return on Investment Dashboard >>

Watch the launch webinar >>

Sample use of ROI dashboard tool (Illinois)



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