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Report · October 2019

Higher Education in California: Improving College Completion

Hans Johnson, Kevin Cook, and Jacob Jackson

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Sutton Family Fund.

California is projected to fall 1.1 million bachelor’s degrees short of economic demand by 2030. Expanding access to higher education could help shrink the gap, but California also needs to boost the likelihood that students who enroll in college will stay on track to earn degrees.

Bachelor’s degree holders are much less likely to be unemployed than those who do not obtain a four-year degree; they also tend to have higher incomes. While California’s community colleges play a key role in preparing students for well-paying jobs, California also needs to increase the number of community college students transferring to and gradu-ating from four-year schools. Policies that focus on preparing students for college-level courses are key to increasing transfer and completion rates-and shortening the amount of time needed to graduate.

This publication is part of a briefing kit that highlights our state’s most pressing higher education challenges in eight key areas:


Completion Higher Education K–12 Education