Higher Education
Federal Grants
September 15, 2021

The Power of Partnerships: The Institute for College Access & Success Community of Practice

Advocating for evidence-based programs to benefit the greater good

For the past year and a half, InsideTrack has had the opportunity to participate in a community of practice led by The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), a trusted source for student-centered public policy research, design, and advocacy. TICAS identified six comprehensive approaches to student success (CASS) models that are evidence-backed by randomized control studies to participate in this community of practice: CUNY ASAP, InsideTrack, Monitoring Advising Analytics to Promote Success (MAAPS), One Million Degrees, Project QUEST, and Stay the Course. In this community, each program has shared details about program design and impact. Now, the community has banded together to advocate for the funding to scale these evidence-based student success programs.

A pivotal moment for student success

Last week the House of Representatives released its reconciliation language which includes a $9 billion Retention and Completion Grants program (page 63). Thirty percent of the funding is earmarked for evidence-based programs that meet the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) grant criteria, and states that devote more to evidence-based programs will receive a higher priority by the U.S. Department of Education. While the House and Senate still need to agree on the language and budget, we know this historic bill can be tremendously impactful for all students, especially those who have been traditionally underserved. This language from the House signals a major move to shift federal higher education policy from simply getting access to college to making sure that students can successfully complete. This is a necessary change given that nearly one in seven adults between the ages of 25-64, have taken some college courses but not completed a degree, and Black adults are the most likely to have some college education but no degree.

Now is the time to improve completion rates and post-graduation outcomes. By focusing on student success the federal government will be linking tax-payer investment and learner outcomes which will drive program completion, and thus improve career paths, increase the ability to pay off student loans, and lift families, communities, and society, one learner at a time.

Fulfilling our mission

At a time when many students are facing additional barriers to college access and success, it’s important to recognize evidence-based approaches that are helping to increase college completion for students historically held furthest from opportunity.

Statistically, those who start but do not complete degrees face the worst outcomes. In fact, borrowers who leave school with debt and no degree are three times more likely to default on student loans than graduates. Racial gaps in completion acutely contribute to racial gaps in repayment and wealth. Six years after entering college in 2014, 41.9% of Black students and 49.6% of Latino/a students had completed degrees compared to 67.7% of white students — a completion gap of more than 18 points that creates long-term disparities in debt, wealth accumulation, and economic security. Through communities like this one led by TICAS, we have the ability to change student outcomes by scaling proven support programs across our nation.

At InsideTrack, we believe that improving one student’s experience in school and chance of success can have a lifelong impact on not just that individual, but on greater society. This is why we are proud to partner with TICAS to advocate for this historic funding. We hope you will join us in sharing your support for the #CollegeCompletionFund.

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