The Issue

The Challenge

Who Graduates From College

Low-income students enroll and complete college at rates far below the national college graduation rate.

What this data means for Oakland: A college degree has the strong potential to shift generational poverty. Students who graduate from college typically earn $1,000,000 more over their career than their peers who only graduated from high school. A first generation college graduate will see 2/3rds of their children also graduate from college. 71% of students in Oakland are low income and the majority would be the first in their family to graduate from college. Unless we dramatically increase college graduation rates, Oakland students will not be prepared to thrive in Oakland’s economy.

who graduates from college
Why College Matters

In Alameda county, heads of household who only completed high school were nearly four times as likely to struggle economically.


why college matters, income

What this data means for Oakland:  Generally, homes with incomes below the self-sufficiency standard struggle to pay for living essentials and often work multiple jobs to make ends meet. In 2014 the 29,348 Alameda County heads of household who did not complete high school are nearly 6 times as likely as college graduates to have incomes below the self sufficiency standard. (United Way of the Bay Area)


College Graduates Have Higher Earning Power

Numerous studies have shown that college graduates typically earn over 60% more income, a lifetime earning potential of $1.0 million more than high school graduates. In addition to making a change in generational poverty, this investment in our youth helps create a stronger talent pool that attracts businesses and investors to the area, an increased tax base, and more buying power in the local community.  Further costs associated with programs addressing poverty, crime, unemployment and health are lowered.


Graph courtesy of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. A report titled “The College Payoff: Education, Occupations, Lifetime Earnings” was released in 2011 by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.