101 Resources

101 Resources

Who are today’s students? How does our system of higher education accreditation work? Who holds colleges and universities accountable for student outcomes? Why do we need a student-level data network?

Our series of 101 explainers sets out to answer these questions and decode the complex, but critical policy issues that impact today’s students and providers. Featuring visual infographics, compact definitions and user-friendly explanations, the 101s offer policymakers, analysts and media a quick and easy to consume explanation of key policy issues in postsecondary education.

Want more 101s from Higher Learning Advocates? For more information or to suggest a topic for an upcoming 101 feature, contact our Policy & Advocacy Director Emily Bouck.

101: Competency-Based Education

More and more of today’s students are adults, parents and older students who are learning outside the traditional academic calendar and often bring substantial work experience and existing college credit. Increasingly, some colleges and universities are measuring a student’s progress based on learning instead of time using competency-based education (CBE). This new 101 from Higher Learning Advocates for a quick read on what CBE is, and why CBE is a critical tool to better serve today's students. 

101: Pell Grant Rainy Day Fund

Funding the Pell Grant program is a complex, sometimes confusing process. The Pell Grant funding mechanism can generate shortfalls and surpluses. In times of surplus, the Pell program gathers a “rainy day fund”, which can provide a cushion in case of future deficits or unexpected cost increases. This explainer resource from Higher Learning Advocates breaks down why leaving the surplus untouched is in the best interests of college affordability and the fiscally responsible thing to do.

101: Accreditation

Accreditation is the linchpin of the federal role in higher education as the gate-keeping system for the federal government’s $120 billion annual investment in higher education. Looking to understand the complex and esoteric process that determines which colleges and universities get a “stamp of approval” to receive federal student aid? Our new accreditation “101” breaks down the basics of how this process works and why policymakers need to take a closer look at changing the system to focus on student outcomes and true quality assurance.

101: Accreditation Glossary

This new "101" accreditation glossary gives you a handy resource decoding the language used during NACIQI meetings and other accreditation debates. From accreditors to on-site evaluations and self-study—the accreditation glossary summarizes the essentials behind the complex process of higher education accreditation.


The new Higher Learning Advocates “101: NACIQI” explainer provides a quick overview and infographics of the appointed panel that exists as an independent check on accreditors by determining which should receive federal recognition.

101: Higher Education and the Triad

Looking for a refresher on higher education accountability? Read our new resource, "101: Higher Education and the Triad", which provides a quick "who's who" of federal higher education accountability and the complex system of checks and balances we use to hold colleges accountable

101: Postsecondary Data

Enhancing federal data systems could help many more students find postsecondary options that work for them and improve their chances at educational and career success.Higher Learning Advocates has developed "101: Postsecondary Data" to provide an intro-level primer on the issue of postsecondary data and why it matters to today's students and consumers, the second in our series of explainers looking at key policy issues in postsecondary education.

101: Today's Students

Today's students are different than the students that federal policy is designed to serve. They are working adults, parents, part-time and online learners, veterans and more diverse in terms of age, race, and income. Get up to speed on who today's students really are with this "101", the first in our series of explainers looking at key policy issues in postsecondary education.