In August, the U.S. Department of Education announced the availability of $5 million in funds to support a new College Completion Fund for Postsecondary Student Success. The move should have a significant impact on improving outcomes for students from low-income backgrounds, but how can eligible institutions improve their chances of securing part of the funding? The College Completion Strategy Guide — a collaboration among MDRC, the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, The Education Trust and The Institute for College Access and Success — just may prove invaluable to postsecondary institutions looking to bolster their applications before the Oct. 11 deadline.
As its name suggests, the College Completion Strategy Guide offers guidance on evidence-based strategies to increase college completion. Created with support from Ascendium as part of a philanthropic focus on reducing or eliminating institutional and systemic barriers for underrepresented postsecondary education learners, the briefs in the guide summarize the research evidence on important topics in postsecondary education and provide direction to policymakers and institutional leaders seeking to advance student success and equity. Briefs cover such topics as practices and policies to increase completion at Tribal Colleges and Universities, boosting college completion rates by reforming developmental education, evidence-based practices to improve outcomes for “post-traditional” learners and more.
Those eligible to apply for the College Completion Fund for Postsecondary Student Success include Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, other Minority-Serving Institutions and institutions serving large shares of learners from low-income backgrounds. This includes community colleges serving those populations. The program promotes postsecondary completion for students close to completion, whether they are currently enrolled in postsecondary education, were close to completing but are no longer enrolled because of challenges they faced during the COVID-19 health crisis or both.
Applicants are asked to describe the work that their institutions are doing to promote retention and completion, propose activities and initiatives to be implemented through the program that meet ED’s definition of promising evidence and present a high-quality evaluation plan. On each of these fronts, the College Completion Strategy guide should prove a useful resource.
Read the press release from ED to learn more.