June 17, 2022

Why attainment and the Achieve60AZ goal matter

How increasing education levels will benefit all Arizonans

In Arizona, we have an important goal for educational attainmentthe Achieve60AZ goalthat 60% of Arizona adults to attain a postsecondary degree or credential by 2030.  

The Achieve60AZ goal was set more than five years ago with the support of a broad community alliance of more than 150 Arizona organizations. These community leaders understood that for Arizona to remain economically competitive, we must advance educational attainment. 

According to the Arizona Education Progress Meter, Arizona is currently at 46% attainment, an increase of only four percentage points since 2016 when the measurement began. The pandemic has only further hindered our progress. Now with less than eight years until 2030, we have a great deal of work to do to reach our goal. We know, however, that achieving our state’s attainment goal will positively affect the quality of life for all Arizonans.

Attainment Opens Doors to Good Jobs 

College degrees are a required first step for many in-demand and growing jobs, including teachers, nurses, doctors, engineers and more. A postsecondary degree also provides access to better-paying jobs.

Adults with a bachelor’s degree earn an average of $2.8 million during their careers, $1.2 million more than the median for workers with a high school diploma. At every additional level of education, workers tend to earn more than those with less education.

Attainment Increases Community Involvement 

A college degree doesn’t appear to just prepare students for future careers, it also correlates to more civic engagement and community involvement.

College graduates are about twice as likely to volunteer in their communities and attend a community meeting. They are also more likely to vote.

Attainment Reduces Crime & Reliance on Government Assistance 

College graduates are considerably less reliant on government programs and services including Medicaid, housing subsidies, nutrition assistance, unemployment benefits, and other public assistance.

Increased attainment has also been tied to substantially reduced crime rates and spending on corrections. Adults who graduated college are nearly five times less likely to be imprisoned.

Attainment Grows Local Economies 

A greater attainment rate can also help local economies thrive by adding billions of dollars to our local economy through increased tax revenues, decreased government spending and other economic gains.

The average bachelor’s degree holder also spends about $278,000 more in their local economies than the average high school graduate spending during their lifetime.

What It Will Take to Increase Attainment in Arizona 

Reaching the Achieve60AZ goal has the potential to create a better Arizona for us all—from lifting more families out of poverty, to reducing crime and welfare dependence and improving our local economies. 

Education Forward Arizona is committed to working towards the Achieve60AZ goal by improving postsecondary entry and completion through advocacy and our programs and services that include the Arizona College Access Network (AzCAN), College Knowing & Going, AdviseAZ, Ask Benji, scholarships and Success Services.  

There are many paths to attainment—including community colleges, universities, apprenticeships, military service and technical institutes—and we believe they all play a role in reaching the Achieve60AZ goal. 

Our state has made strides to help make college more affordable for low-income students through the Arizona Promise Program, but there is more work to be done. 

Recently we have begun to convene community partners across the state to determine what it will take to reach the Achieve60AZ goal by 2030 and meet the goals in the Arizona Education Progress Meter.  This work will build off of the existing strategies we have and prioritize others to create a shared plan of action that the community can move forward together.

Achieving this goal will require continued community support and collaboration and we look forward to working with our partners and sharing our progress with you.