The Council on Postsecondary Education wants to raise the six-year completion rate from 45 percent in 2004 to 56 percent in 2020. If we're aiming for roughly 31,000 bachelor's degrees in 2020, we'll need a bit more than 55,500 entering students in 2014.
Some of those students will come from raising high school and GED completion. In 2020, CPE wants 41,000 entering students from those two sources. In 2014, if we're on track for that target, that could mean that 31,500 first-year students will enter directly from high school, with 4,000 coming from GED completion.
That leaves roughly 20,000 freshmen to come from other situations. They will be 58 or younger in 2014, so that they will still be in the workforce 64 and under in 2020. Within that age group, they can include anyone who isn't in college or holding a bachelor's degree already.
Roughly, the 2020 graduating class --and the 2014 entering class-- will look roughly like this:
Notes: The 56% six-year-completion rate comes from the CPE "Double the Numbers" plan here. The 31,000 degrees in 2020 is a rounded version of my estimate from numbers in that report, shared here. The 41,000 entering students in 2020 is also a rounding of my calculation from those numbers, shared here. The 36,000 in 2014 is a matter of estimating 16 equal steps from 2004 to 2020, and then rounding.