Press Release
August 9, 2022

UNC Expands Statewide Initiative Designed to Help Stopped-Out Students Complete College

In collaboration with national nonprofit InsideTrack, UNC System expands multi-campus program designed to help remove barriers to college access and success

CHAPEL HILL, N.C., (August 9, 2022) -- The University of North Carolina (UNC) System has launched a statewide, multi-campus initiative that is harnessing the power of one-on-one student success coaching to help students with some college and no degree or credential return to and complete their studies at one of eight UNC system schools. In collaboration with national nonprofit InsideTrack, the System is supporting the outreach and coaching at the following campuses: Appalachian State University, Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, UNC Charlotte, UNC Greensboro, UNC Pembroke, Western Carolina University, and Winston-Salem State University.

"The pandemic has made college access more challenging than ever, especially for adult learners and students from historically underrepresented populations,” said Eric Fotheringham, director of community college partnerships and adult learner initiatives at the University of North Carolina System. “The expansion of this work will be a crucial part of the System’s efforts to support returning students, remove barriers to re-enrollment and success, and ensure that students have the support they need to succeed.”

Nationally, more than 39 million adults have at least some college but no degree or credential according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, up from more than 36 million only 3 years ago. While North Carolina has made progress toward its ambitious attainment goal of 66% for adults ages 25-44 by 2030, currently only 52.1% of residents have earned a postsecondary degree or certificate. In North Carolina there are more than 1 million adults with some college, but no degree or credential, 33.8% of whom are under 35 years of age and 53.5% are between 35 and 64.

The UNC System has sharpened and expanded its focus on adult learners and those with some credit but no degree or credential with support from public and private partners. Private foundations have been investing in the UNC System’s adult learner work for a number of years and in 2021, the president of the UNC System, Peter Hans, announced that the North Carolina General Assembly appropriated $97 million for the launch of Project Kitty Hawk, a nonprofit ed-tech startup that will partner with the UNC System to help universities design workforce-aligned online programs, as well as attract, enroll, and support adult learners through graduation.

With this generous public and private support, the UNC System Office expanded its partnership with InsideTrack to bring thousands more stopped-out students back to UNC System campuses, many of which are minority-serving institutions (MSIs), and coach those interested in completing their degrees through the process of re-enrolling and successfully resuming their studies. The work is the result of a successful collaboration and coaching partnership between InsideTrack and the UNC System, which began with an initial pilot program nearly three years ago.

Results from the program to date have been promising, while also surfacing new insights into the most common barriers that cause students to stop out, many of which became even more prevalent as institutions across the country began to grapple with the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Students most often attributed stopping out of school to balancing school with work and family responsibilities (46%) and financial resource constraints (24%). Following the success of the pilot program in 2019, along with the valuable insights they gained about their student population, UNC System administrators chose to expand their efforts to other schools in the system and help students return to and complete their higher education on a wider scale, as the number of students with some college but no credential continues to rise.

The engagement with the UNC System is one of a wide range of strategic partnerships that InsideTrack is supporting across the state of North Carolina focused on increasing college access, completion, and workforce readiness. Earlier this summer, InsideTrack announced the expansion of the John M. Belk Endowment NC Reconnect program, initially launched in 2021 with a coalition of community colleges, resulting in successful outreach to 12,000 adult learners. In 2022, this number has expanded by an additional 10,500 adult learners.

Beyond its focus on re-engaging returning students with some college experience, the UNC System office is also working to strengthen postsecondary access and enrollment among first-time, low-income students. Through a three-year project, the System is working with InsideTrack to build coaching programs for students who enrolled in college through the federally- funded GEAR UP program.

“To help more students chart a successful path to earning a degree or credential, it’s critical that we support the needs of the whole student by working with them to overcome non-academic barriers to student success,” said Carrie Lockhert, associate vice president for partner success at InsideTrack. “This unique collaboration between the state system office, its institutions, and other agencies across the state will help more North Carolinians access pathways to and through higher education.”


About UNC System: The University of North Carolina System enrolls nearly 250,000 students at 17 institutions, including the state’s 16 public universities and the nation’s first public residential high school for academically gifted students. The UNC System is among the strongest and most diverse higher education systems in the country, with more than $1.8 billion in research expenditures and campuses that serve every region of the state. Affiliate organizations include UNC Health and PBS North Carolina, with its 12-station broadcast network. For more information, please visit

About InsideTrack: InsideTrack is passionate about helping all learners achieve their education and career goals through the transformative power of coaching. Since 2001, we’ve served 2.6 million learners, partnering with more than 250 institutions and organizations to directly improve enrollment, persistence, completion and career readiness. Our coaching methodology is evidence-based and research-confirmed, with proven outcomes for every type of learner — from traditional to adult, part-time to full-time, online to in-person — including first generation students and those who face systemic barriers to postsecondary success. We also work with partners to build internal coaching capacity through staff training and professional services — designed to sustain advances in-house for lasting, scalable impact. InsideTrack is a part of Strada Collaborative, a mission-driven nonprofit. To learn more, visit and follow us on Twitter @InsideTrack and LinkedIn @InsideTrack.

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