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Performance Highlights | Goal 5:
Enhance the quality of and access
to postsecondary and adult education

This pie chart shows the amount of FY 2005 expenditures that support Goal 5, and the amount that supports all other goals. 49.1 percent of expenditures supported Goal 5, and 50.9 percent of expenditures support all other goals.

"We have a responsibility to make sure our higher education system continues to meet our nation's needs for an educated and competitive workforce in the 21st century. Throughout our history, we've answered the call to extend the promise of higher education to more Americans." Secretary Margaret Spellings's remarks reinforce the Department's focused efforts to enhance the quality of and access to postsecondary and adult education. Postsecondary and adult education continues to provide a means by which Americans can acquire literacy skills, prepare for jobs, and become better-informed citizens.

A recent national survey commissioned by the Job Shadow Coalition shows that 70 percent of teenagers believe that they need higher education to achieve the American dream. Considering that more than two-thirds of new jobs require some postsecondary education, the Department's achievements in improving postsecondary and adult education in America benefit students and encourage successful life outcomes.

Key results for Goal 5

  • Postsecondary completion rates rose significantly from 1970 to 2004, indicating increased access to and persistence in pursuing a postsecondary education. While figures show that white adults aged 25-29 are more likely to have earned a bachelor's degree or higher than minority adults, trends for black and Hispanic adults also show an increase in degree attainment.
  • Fiscal management has improved in the Department's postsecondary aid programs. In 2005, our student financial aid programs were removed from the Government Accountability Office list [PDF, 3.5MB] of high-risk programs.

Areas of Focus

In 2005, we formed the Secretary of Education's Commission on the Future of Higher Education to focus on the improvement of the nation's postsecondary education system. The new commission is charged with developing a comprehensive national strategy for postsecondary education to meet the needs of America's diverse population and to address the economic and workforce needs of the country's future.

The Department began the first phase of a pilot test of the use of efficiency measures to improve program performance in the TRIO Student Support Services program. The results of analyses are expected to provide project directors with information that will guide projects and the program toward adopting best practices and making other program improvements. Other changes in TRIO include better integration across TRIO programs to provide continued services to participants as they transition from high school to college and beyond.