Degree Attainment

It has been noted that an affordable, high-quality higher education system is the single most important means at our disposal to create opportunity for all Americans, regardless of background. Unfortunately, nearly half of all students enrolling in a four-year college with the goal of attaining a bachelor's degree fail to graduate within six years. State policymakers and postsecondary institutions are beginning to address the issues of student success and retention, but there’s much more work to be done.

It has been noted that an affordable, high-quality higher education system is the single most important means at our disposal to create opportunity for all Americans, regardless of background. Unfortunately, nearly half of all students enrolling in a four-year college with the goal of attaining a bachelor's degree fail to graduate within six years. State policymakers and postsecondary institutions are beginning to address the issues of student success and retention, but there’s much more work to be done.

It’s a tough world out there for young people looking to succeed in college. And for far too many of them, the education they received as children hasn’t help as much as it should have. “Obviously, global competition made this more urgent than ever before,” said Lucille Davy, senior adviser with the James B. Hunt Jr. Institute for Education Policy and Leadership. Davy was one of the featured speakers on a November webinar by The Council of State Governments—“Increasing Access to Postsecondary Education.”

States are turning to performance funding to increase the number of students earning a degree or certificate from a postsecondary institution, but it’s not a magic bullet.

States have funded universities and colleges based on how many students are enrolled. Performance funding takes all or part of the base funding and rewards schools doing well on certain goals—such as on-time graduations or the number of students earning a degree in science, technology, engineering or math.

Stateline Midwest

Starting as soon as this fall, the University of Wisconsin plans to begin offering courses through a new model of higher education that leaders say will transform the state’s postsecondary system. Students will be able to take online classes anytime and learn at their own pace — with credits earned based on competency rather than seat time.

Stateline Midwest ~ March 2012

Indiana college students are expected to save time and money under a pair of bills passed by the legislature earlier this year.

The first of those measures, SB 182, aims to make it easier to transfer college credits between schools. The bill requires all state-...

On Monday, President Barack Obama officially unveiled his budget for 2013.  As he spoke from Northern Virginia Community College, Obama highlighted the more than $65 billion in education funding focused on resources dedicated to transforming K-12 and postsecondary education to ensure students have the skills and knowledge to succeed in the future.

In order to see robust economic growth in the states, postsecondary degree attainment must increase to produce skilled employees for the workforce.  The need for higher-skilled employees is increasing, yet the United States is not producing enough workers with a college degree to meet the growing demand.  Each year until 2025, 800,000 more college students must complete their degrees to meet the needs of the workforce.  Policymakers and education officials can assist college-goers as they seek high-quality degrees and credentials.  Additionally, policies can be enacted to help institutions increase capacity to serve more students and increase system productivity.

Educators and policymakers realize that all of America’s students need a high-quality education to prepare them for college and careers. 2012 promises to be another busy year in  transformational strategies in education. In order to ensure a world-class education, leaders will likely address these top five issues facing states and territories (“the states”) this year.

When a student is paying college costs out of his or her pocket, or borrowing money to pay tuition, fees, books and living expenses, there’s a pretty good incentive to take as few courses as needed and finish the degree as quickly as possible. What happens, however, when the student is receiving a full merit scholarship from the state? Some students might take advantage of the financial aid to earn degrees in multiple subjects, with taxpayers footing the bill.

Texas has enacted a law this year “to facilitate the timely completion of degrees.” H.B. 3025, signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry on June 17, requires all students to submit a plan detailing how they intend to achieve their degrees. Most students would be required to submit their graduation plans no later than semester after they have earned 45 credit hours. Students entering an institution with 45 credits would be given until the end of the second semester at the institution to file the graduation plan. If students later have a change of heart, and consequently want to change their majors, they will be required to obtain permission in order to continue to receive financial aid.

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