Today’s students come from all walks of life. They are parents, working adults, veterans, online students and first-generation college-goers, following many pathways through higher education. They need a system that is flexible, affordable and responsive to their needs. Federal policy must reflect who today’s students are.
Quality & Outcomes
High-quality outcomes are paramount, but current quality assurance approaches are inadequate. The nation needs a system of quality assurance based on high-quality learning and focused on students and their outcomes. Federal policy must raise the bar for quality, promote innovation and shift from inputs to outcomes.
2020 & Higher Learning Advocates
Your State’s Higher Education Profile
Today’s Adult Students
Many adult students have different responsibilities—including work and family—on their path to a degree or credential. Sixty-four percent of students work either full-time or part-time. One quarter of students are parents, and 49 percent are financially independent. With different responsibilities, adult students need policies that cater directly to their needs.
Champions Network: Bipartisan Leaders United for Today’s Students
The Higher Learning Advocates Champions Network is a group of forward-thinking state and local leaders devoted to improving quality, outcomes and affordability in postsecondary education. Learn more about how these reformers are driving student success through student-focused policies and practices at the state and local level. Discover more about the Champions Network.
Our Higher Education Act (HEA) recommendations are for the critical improvements that are needed to remedy the disconnect between federal policy and the needs of today’s students, and ensure our federal higher education programs work for the current and future generations.
Higher Education Policy: 101
Complex policy issues need simple explanations. Featuring visual infographics, compact definitions anduser-friendly explanations, our 101 explainers offer policymakers, analysts and media a quick and easy to consume explanation of key policy issues in postsecondary education.
Latest News and Resources
Money: Why It’s So Hard for College Students Who Are Parents to Actually Earn Their Degrees
"Tysa Rose had done everything she was supposed to when she enrolled in her local community college in Fargo, North Dakota, two years ago. She signed up for cl…
U.S. News & World Report: College Enrollment Caps – What to Know
"Public colleges and universities were designed to serve the educational needs of those who live in the state. To uphold that mission, some schools and states …
Voices of Reform
Michelle Asha Cooper, Ph.D. says, The promise of higher education is truly fulfilled when all students who begin the task of earning a degree successfully complete the journey.
Michelle Asha Cooper, Ph.D.
President, The Institute for Higher Education Policy
Mike Krause says, The perception of the average American college student is not correct, and we must ensure these shifting demographics are reflected in the policy development process. The notion that 18-year-old freshman serve as the foundation for how we view college and universities has to change.
Executive Director, Tennessee Higher Education Commission
Denise Pearson says, As a first-generation college graduate employed by an organization that promotes equity in higher education policies and practices, I am encouraged by ongoing conversations and actions among higher education policymakers and others that aim to improve access and outcomes for all students, regardless of their starting point in life and particularly among underrepresented (also referred to as “underestimated”) citizens of America.
Vice President of Academic Affairs and Equity Initiatives, State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO)
Rose García says, As Congress works to reauthorize HEA, it must invest in holistic student success models that incorporate a strong anti-poverty, racial equity focus. These models must couple clear and guided pathways with comprehensive academic and financial supports. They must also connect students to public benefits, mental health services, cultural and community centers, and other campus and community resources that allow them to thrive in school and beyond.
Director of Postsecondary Education and Workforce Development at the Center for Law and Social Policy
Julie Peller says, It is time once again for the nation’s policymakers to fundamentally rethink the way we organize, finance and support higher learning. Through bipartisan cooperation, a hard-nosed look at the research, and an unwavering focus on students, that goal is well within reach.
Executive Director, Higher Learning Advocates
Pam Bowers says, Improving the quality of student learning data advances an institution’s ability to report student learning achievement on transcripts; conduct analyses to gain insights into student persistence, timely graduation, and post-graduation employment; and to advance institutional effectiveness.
Associate Vice President, University of South Carolina