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The Share of First-Gen College Grads Is Declining

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The typical family headed by someone with at least a four-year college degree has more than three times the wealth of the typical family headed by someone with less education.

Given such a financial incentive, it may not be much of a surprise that the share of people with a college degree has been rising, going up about 4 percentage points (to 37.4%) from 2015 to 2018.

However, within that group, the share of first-generation college graduates declined about 7 percentage points to 41.6% over the same period. In the video below from a recent Dialogue with the Fed event, Ana Hernandez Kent—a policy analyst with the St. Louis Fed’s Center for Household Financial Stability—discussed these trends.

Kent emphasized that the share of first-generation college graduates—sitting at roughly four out of every 10 college grads—means that most college degree holders are continuing-generation college grads. “This stat should already indicate to you that there’s great stickiness between generations in terms of education,” Kent said.

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