The Current State of Adult Education

So often when we talk about education, we’re talking about school aged children. Realistically, that is what is most relevant to Edudemic readers based on who we hear from (lesson here: speak up if you want us to share things more geared towards other types of teachers!). In reality, there are many, many adults participating in the educational landscape – from the student end. With the job market moving towards being more technologically based than ever before, more adults than ever are heading back to school – or going for the first time. With so many jobs becoming STEM based and many requiring postsecondary education, this should come as no surprise. The handy infographic below takes a look at the current state of adult education – showing just how large a chunk of education is dedicated to adult learners. Keep reading to learn more!

The Current State of Adult Education

  • In the US adult education is a $104 billion industry
  • 38% of all postsecondary learners are adult students
  • Adults represent the fastest growing population  in higher education
  • The average tuition for community college is $3,131, for public college $8,893, and for private college, $29,056
  • 85% of employers offer some type of reimbursement for tuition
  • The student financial aid and scholarships office awards $320 million in scholarships annually, and 78% of applicants receive some sort of financial aid from them
  • Personal growth, learning something new, and keeping up with the job market are the main reasons adults say they go back to school
  • 80% of baby boomers intent to keep working past retirement
  • 62% of baby boomers think they need to attain new skills to continue working
  • Adult students who go back to school show a 22% return on their investment, as opposed to a 12% return for traditional students


adult education


  1. B Anna

    June 19, 2014 at 7:19 am

    The current state of education across the globe has taken a huge turn. While it is heartening to see the condition of the system as well as students improving and developing, a lot many things still need to be taken up on a more serious note to give students maximum opprtunities to succeed.

  2. Margot R

    June 23, 2014 at 10:32 am

    It would be great to have more articles on adult ed, specifically mature high school.


  3. Sarah

    July 9, 2014 at 1:11 am

    I’d also love to hear more about adult education, as a TAFE (technical and further education) teacher in Australia. Thanks :)