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Annual Reports and Information Staff (Annual Reports)
Population Characteristics and Economic Outcomes

Educational Attainment of Young Adults

(Last Updated: May 2021)

Between 2010 and 2020, the percentage of Hispanic 25- to 29-year-olds who had completed at least high school increased by 20 percentage points from 69 percent to 90 percent. The gap in educational attainment rates between White and Hispanic 25- to 29-year-olds narrowed for those who had completed at least high school and who were at the levels of an associate’s or higher degree and a bachelor’s or higher degree.

Educational attainment refers to the highest level of education completed by the time of the survey (reported here as high school completion or higher,1 an associate’s or higher degree, a bachelor’s or higher degree, or a master’s or higher degree). Between 2010 and 2020,2 educational attainment rates among 25- to 29-year-olds increased at each attainment level. During this period, the percentage who had completed at least high school increased from 89 to 95 percent, the percentage with an associate’s or higher degree increased from 41 to 50 percent, the percentage with a bachelor’s or higher degree increased from 32 to 39 percent, and the percentage with a master’s or higher degree increased from 7 to 9 percent.

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Figure 1. Percentage of 25- to 29-year-olds, by educational attainment and sex: 2010 and 2020
Figure 1. Percentage of 25- to 29-year-olds, by educational attainment and sex: 2010 and 2020

NOTE: Data were collected in March of each year and are based on sample surveys of the noninstitutionalized population, which excludes persons living in institutions (e.g., prisons or nursing facilities); data include military personnel who live in households with civilians, but exclude those who live in military barracks. High school completion includes those who graduated from high school with a diploma as well as those who completed high school through equivalency programs, such as a GED program. Caution should be used when comparing 2020 estimates to those of prior years due to the impact that the coronavirus pandemic had on interviewing and response rates in 2020. For additional information about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Current Population Survey data collection, please see https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/cps/techdocs/cpsmar20.pdf. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), Annual Social and Economic Supplement, 2010 and 2020. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 104.20.

Figure 2. Percentage of 25- to 29-year-olds who had completed high school or a higher degree, by race/ethnicity and educational attainment: 2010 and 2020
Figure 2. Percentage of 25- to 29-year-olds who had completed high school or a higher degree, by race/ethnicity and educational attainment: 2010 and 2020

! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.

NOTE: Data were collected in March of each year and are based on sample surveys of the noninstitutionalized population, which excludes persons living in institutions (e.g., prisons or nursing facilities); data include military personnel who live in households with civilians, but exclude those who live in military barracks. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. High school completion includes those who graduated from high school with a diploma as well as those who completed high school through equivalency programs, such as a GED program. Caution should be used when comparing 2020 estimates to those of prior years due to the impact that the coronavirus pandemic had on interviewing and response rates in 2020. For additional information about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Current Population Survey data collection, please see https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/cps/techdocs/cpsmar20.pdf. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), Annual Social and Economic Supplement, 2010 and 2020. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 104.20.

Figure 3. Percentage of 25- to 29-year-olds who had completed an associate’s or higher degree, by race/ethnicity and educational attainment: 2010 and 2020
Figure 3. Percentage of 25- to 29-year-olds who had completed an associate’s or higher degree, by race/ethnicity and educational attainment: 2010 and 2020

! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.

NOTE: Data were collected in March of each year and are based on sample surveys of the noninstitutionalized population, which excludes persons living in institutions (e.g., prisons or nursing facilities); data include military personnel who live in households with civilians, but exclude those who live in military barracks. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Caution should be used when comparing 2020 estimates to those of prior years due to the impact that the coronavirus pandemic had on interviewing and response rates in 2020. For additional information about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Current Population Survey data collection, please see https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/cps/techdocs/cpsmar20.pdf. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), Annual Social and Economic Supplement, 2010 and 2020. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 104.20.


1 High school completion includes those who graduated from high school with a diploma as well as those who completed high school through equivalency programs, such as a GED program.

2 Caution should be used when comparing 2020 estimates to those of prior years due to the impact that the coronavirus pandemic had on interviewing and response rates in 2020. For additional information about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Current Population Survey data collection, please see https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/cps/techdocs/cpsmar20.pdf.

3 Pacific Islander 25- to 29-year-olds are not included in this comparison because sample sizes in 2020 were too small to provide reliable estimates.

4 American Indian/Alaska Native 25- to 29-year-olds who attained a bachelor’s or higher degree and who attained a master’s or higher degree are not included in this comparison because sample sizes in 2020 were too small to provide reliable estimates.

5 Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native 25- to 29-year-olds who attained a master’s or higher degree are not included in this comparison because the sample sizes in 2020 were too small to provide reliable estimates.

Supplemental Information

Disability Rates and Employment Status by Educational Attainment [The Condition of Education 2017 Spotlight]
Educational Attainment [Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups]
Snapshot: Attainment of a Bachelor's or Higher Degree for Racial/Ethnic Subgroups [Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups]
Trends in Employment Rates by Educational Attainment [The Condition of Education 2013 Spotlight]
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Table 104.20 (Digest 2020): Percentage of persons 25 to 29 years old with selected levels of educational attainment, by race/ethnicity and sex: Selected years, 1920 through 2020
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