According to Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce, the U.S. economy added 11.6 million jobs from 2010 to 2016—11.5 million of which went to workers with at least some postsecondary education.
And for the first time, college graduates make up a larger share of the workforce than workers with a high school diploma or less. Student success depends on all of today’s students being able to access and complete a postsecondary education without structural and financial barriers. This is especially important for low-income students and families, who often face insurmountable barriers to entering postsecondary education.
Ensure a pathway between postsecondary, workforce and job training programs.
There is a growing need for our postsecondary education system to offer comprehensive pathways that offer portable and transferable credentials and connections between traditional higher education, workforce, and experiential learning. More Americans are moving outside city centers and away from traditional learning. Working adults and military veterans are learning skills that can translate into credentials. Federal policy needs a dynamic new approach that links these disconnected systems together and provides valuable opportunities to for all of today’s students to develop new skills and get recognition for past experience.
- Expand on common definitions, identification of state and regional goals and needs, and accountability encompassing federal education and workforce programs.
- Incentivize businesses and other providers to create and grow registered apprenticeships or on-the-job training through programmatic and financial support.
- Ensure federal infrastructure initiatives include considerations for job training and improved access to postsecondary credentials.
Integrate a college affordability benchmark.
Building a common agreement around the price of an affordable college education is critical to advancing federal policy.
- Amend federal college cost watch lists to integrate an affordability benchmark.
- Provide students with early aid awareness based on an affordability benchmark.
Recognize and allow student aid to be used for all high-quality learning.
Our current postsecondary system fails to recognize innovative pathways to a degree, certificate, or credential. Federal policy focuses too much on whether students are sitting in a traditional classroom instead of whether they are acquiring valuable knowledge and skills. Students often pay for courses by the credit hour rather than learning in a competency-based environment that recognizes skill and knowledge attainment. Federal policy should adapt to allow the use of federal student aid to pay for competency-based and other learning models.
- Reform federal student aid rules and oversight to encourage effective new models focused on outcomes, such as competency-based education.
- Allow students to receive student loans and Pell Grants for attendance at high-quality, approved non-institutional programs, including apprenticeships and employer-based training.
- Allow federal student aid to be used for payment of prior learning assessments.
- Identify incentives for schools that enhance credit transferability.
- Enhance and incentivize dual enrollment program participation and programs that enable students to graduate high school with college credit or industry certification.