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Gates Foundation Reboots Strategy on College Completion

March 12, 2015

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is relaunching its advocacy agenda to create a more flexible, personalized, affordable and clear U.S. postsecondary education system. At the center of this agenda will be an effort to collect better metrics on student and institutional performance and to extend finance and financial aid options for lower income students. The foundation plans to advocate for these priorities at the federal and state level, with particular focus on policies in 10 select states: California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.

Over the past seven years, the Gates Foundation has invested about a half billion dollars on increasing college completion rates, according to Inside Higher Ed. Its funds have been used to support research, strategic plans, program implementation and policy advocacy. The foundation intends to use its new postsecondary agenda to guide its advocacy efforts, which will focus on four priority policy areas, rather than specific legislation. These areas include:

  • Creating a national data infrastructure that will provide accurate and consistent college completion metrics;
  • Advancing finance and financial aid strategies aimed at low-income and at-risk students;
  • Replacing ineffective college remedial education programs; and,
  • Expanding programs that provide flexible opportunities to students.

The first two areas will receive particular attention at the state and federal level, as well as in the 10 select states.

Read the Gates Foundation's Postsecondary Success Advocacy Priorities...

Many states are already embracing innovative approaches to improving educational pathways. Later this month, California state officials will announce winners of the California Awards for Innovation in Higher Education, a $50 million initiative to boost completion rates. Thirty-five schools, including campuses of the University of California system, California State University system institutions and community colleges pitched their plans this week for $2.5 million awards. The proposals centered on efforts to increase the number of California students who receive bachelor's degrees within four years, and the number of students at two-year institutions who make the successful transition to four-year programs. Read more...

higher ed, foundations