This report identifies 10 fallacies that "policymakers reject when considering how to use federal student aid to increase college completion." One is that "the design of federal student aid is a major barrier to college completion." The report also identifies six barriers to access and completion and provides a framework for assessing the impact of proposed changes to the Higher Education Act. The six barriers are rising net prices, excessive loan burdens, fragmented funding, delivery complexity, inadequate early information and intervention, and insufficient in-college student support services.
A Brookings report address ways to narrow the opportunity gap between those in the lowest and highest income groups. Providing access to higher education to low-income students via Pell Grants is not enough; the gap can only be reduced if more low-income students graduate. The report offers several ideas for increasing the completion rate of low-income students, including tying aid to performance and, admittedly a more controversial approach, using national tests, as exist in many European countries, to determine eligibility for admission to postsecondary institutions.
The realities of the new economic environment have created additional phases in the life cycle, according to this report. To adapt to the new phases, "the United States needs a new generational social compact for both young and older adults." The transition into and out of the labor market needs to be smoother and more efficient: Young adults will need to mix work and learning at earlier stages to accelerate their launch into full-time careers, and older adults will need a smoother transition into retirement that features a more flexible phase of work before full-fledged retirement.
A survey by Gallup found that one-third of American adults view online education as better than traditional classroom-based education and another 39 percent view it as comparable to classroom-based education. Two-thirds of American adults said that online education provided better value or the same value as traditional classroom-based education. However, nearly half of respondents said that online education does not provide a degree that will be viewed positively by employers.
PSCUs open doors to many of the 9.1 million unemployed and 90 million undereducated Americans by providing a skills-based education. To remain competitive over the next decade, we must identify between 8 and 23 million new workers with postsecondary skills. PSCUs are a necessary part of that solution, having produced over 800,000 degrees last year alone.