Federal policy was designed to meet the needs of students during the 1960’s and ‘70’s. We need to modernize and reform federal higher education policy to meet today’s challenges and better serve today’s students.

The Challenge

Degree completion is not keeping up

Degree completion is not keeping up with workforce and community needs.

There are 31 million adults with some college credit, but no degree. Despite more students attending college, they are more likely to leave with debt than a completed degree. We need a system designed to drive both access and completion.

Today's students are different

Today’s students are different.

Federal higher education policies were largely created at a time when students went to college immediately after high school. Today’s students are more diverse in age, race, income and work experience. They lead different lives. We need a system that serves their interests.

Quality assurance is outdated

Quality assurance is outdated.

Taxpayers spend more $150 billion on postsecondary education annually. But we ask little of providers’ outcomes in return. We need a system of higher learning that values quality and student outcomes above all else.

Skills and knowledge are key

Skills and knowledge are at the crossroads.

New technologies and market trends are expected to displace up to 1.4 million American jobs by 2026. We need a system of higher learning that enables continuous education and learning beyond high school.

Learning and credentials are evolving

Learning and credentials are evolving.

One in four Americans has a non-degree credential, such as a certificate or certification. We need a system of higher learning that recognizes and supports all high-quality learning wherever it happens.

The Solution: A New System of Higher Learning

Achieving a system of higher learning requires bringing together bipartisan ideas and refocusing federal policies on what today’s students need. We need better connections between providers and the credentials they issue so that students do not need to recertify learning they already have. And we need federal policies that create and support transparent pathways to success, incentivize innovation, protect students and taxpayers, and improve outcomes.

Featured Issue Briefs

  • Distance Education Backgrounder

    Even before the COVID-19 pandemic made distance education the new normal, it was steadily becoming more common. Today’s students—many of whom work while in col…

  • The Playbook for Today’s Students

    Higher learning is the ticket to economic opportunity for Americans, as well as to rebuilding our country's economy. But we are failing too many of today's stu…

Today’s Students

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.

Latest News and Resources

  • Higher Learning Advocates Submits Comments on Improving our Nation’s Workforce System

    WASHINGTON (April 9, 2021) — Today, Higher Learning Advocates submitted comments to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions in response to a re…

  • Higher Learning Advocates Applauds Support for Today’s Students in President Biden’s Discretionary Budget Request

    WASHINGTON (April 9, 2021) — Today, President Biden released his proposed FY2022 budget request, which we are thrilled to see includes several wins for today’s…

  • Higher Learning Advocates Comments on the American Jobs Plan

    WASHINGTON (March 31, 2021) — Today, the Biden Administration announced the American Jobs Plan, which includes significant investments in workforce training, b…