The percentage of young adults earning a college degree has increased slightly but still remains far below the level needed to reach the president's goal of having the U.S. rank first worldwide in college graduates.
Data being released by the Education Department on Thursday says 39.3 percent of adults ages 25 to 34 had earned an associate, bachelor's or graduate degree in 2010. That's a half-percentage point increase over the previous year.
Rising tuition costs is one of several reasons why more young adults aren't graduating from college.
In remarks to the National Governors Association on Friday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan is expected to urge states and institutions to help the federal government keep costs down. Tuition at four-year public universities increased 15 percent between 2008 and 2010, a rise driven largely by cuts to state funding. Forty states trimmed their higher education spending in the last year, the department said.