Romney and a student walk into a coffee shop ...

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney spoke at Lansing Community College Tuesday, suggesting that “somewhere in a coffeehouse, a student, maybe here in Lansing, is sketching out an idea that will change our lives.”

A block away from the auditorium where Romney spoke is Gibson’s coffee shop, a hangout for students attending Lansing Community College. Students there may come up with the next iPad. More likely, they won’t earn a degree.

Only 22 percent of full-time LCC students will earn an associate’s degree within three years, according to Complete College America. And that’s a higher rate than the state as a whole, where only one in six earn an associate’s degree in three years. Michigan ranks 44th in the nation in graduation rates for those seeking an associate’s degree.

See Bridge's report on community college graduation rates.

“I want that person to succeed beyond his wildest dreams,” Romney said of his coffee-shop inventor.

The first step toward that success quite often is a college degree -- something that for too many Michigan students is a dream instead of a reality.

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