Points of View

States Take Action to Help Near-Completers Earn College Degrees

Sam Stebbins

This blog post refers to a brief written by Lexi Anderson, which can be read here from the Education Commission of the United States.


Adults with some college credit but no degree have been identified as a key group in increasing the overall number of Americans with postsecondary educations, according to a brief written by Lexi Anderson from the Education Commission of the United States. Anderson states that in 2011, there were 31 million people in the United States who had left school before earning their degree. This population is referred to as “near-completers.”

 

States take action

In response to the large number of near-completers, several states have taken action to encourage more adults to return to, and finish, their post-secondary education. In 2017, five states have introduced bills regarding this issue. Among them are Delaware, Idaho, Maine, Texas, and Michigan.

Although the bills vary, most are concerned primarily with college’s affordability. Some introduce tax incentives for adults returning to school, financial aid programs dedicated to adults returning to work, or partial loan forgiveness.

With financial concerns addressed for adults returning to college, the campaigns then go to work connecting to near-completers. In Indiana, for example, states worked with colleges to reach out to students who had not yet graduated. By connecting directly with near-completers and sharing new options and support with them, states increased the number of adults earning their degrees. Indiana’s “You Can. Go Back.” campaign lead to 9,000 students returning to college as a result.

However, affordability is not the only barrier for adults earning their degrees. Non-traditional students often require services that younger students do not, such as more flexible schedules or availability of online classes. 

 

What can I do?

In-demand skills are essential to success in the labor market, and skills alignment is one of the three barriers (along with transportation and childcare) that the Workforce Development Working Group is focused on. Learn more about all of the barriers in our recent workforce development report, and read the whole brief from the Education Commission here