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New Release: A Guide for the Biden-Harris Administration to Ensure Student Success in Higher Education

Today, New America released a set of higher education proposals for the Biden-Harris Transition Team. The proposals include a new paper we jointly co-authored, along with Kate Tromble, Vice President for Federal Policy at Results for America, proposing a new $800 million tiered evidence innovation fund at the U.S. Department of Education to build evidence for and scale post-secondary approaches that successfully increase access to economic opportunity, improve graduation and completion rates, and increase equity across our higher education system.

This type of bold approach, closely aligned with the bipartisan FINISH Act that America Forward and Results for America have both championed, could increase equity and opportunity for millions of students pursuing a post-secondary credential today.

As we note in the proposal: “Thirty-one percent [of today’s college students] are at or below the poverty line, only 46 percent live on campus, and nearly 30 percent have children of their own. Furthermore, these students are increasingly likely to come from Black and brown communities, and often face systemic barriers that make it harder to complete their postsecondary degrees, compared with many of their peers.”

We call on the incoming Biden-Harris Administration to “work closely with the bipartisan FINISH Act sponsors, as well as additional, engaged members of both parties . . . to introduce an expanded and retooled FINISH Act in 2021 that creates the evidence-based college completion fund” along the lines we propose.

Given that only a third of today’s students graduate within one-and-a-half times the length of the average community college program, our proposed fund would help students across this country who are not well served by the current system by catalyzing innovation, improving outcomes, and leveraging public and private funding.

This fund would provide critical federal funding to build evidence for and scale a number of the services and interventions offered across the country by the innovative and outcomes-focused members of our Coalition. The full paper released by New America, and linked in our post-election Transition memo to the President-elect’s team, includes several specific examples of services and programs we hope to see scaled.

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