Policy that Works for Today’s Students

Many federal education and workforce policies were developed when most students attending postsecondary education went immediately to a four-year or trade school after graduating from high school. The good news is that there are bipartisan solutions available now that can help make college more affordable and valuable for this new generation of students. Federal policies should better serve today’s students by emphasizing completion, updating financial aid, and ensuring better information for students and taxpayers.


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Emily Bouck


Flexible Pathways
Today’s students need flexible and connected nimble pathways between postsecondary, workforce, and job-training programs.
Higher learning is no longer a one-time experience, but a lifelong process. Federal policy should reinforce connections between postsecondary education and training programs to promote academic and workforce success and make credentials and skills more transferable and portable for students. Finally, federal policy should recognize the growing importance of innovative models, such as competency-based education, online learning and alternative credentials.

Changing Models of Instruction
Reform federal student aid rules and oversight to encourage effective and high-quality new models focused on outcomes, such as competency-based education.
New Programs and Providers
Allow students to receive federal student loans and Pell Grants for attendance at high-quality, approved non-institutional programs, including apprenticeships and employer-based training.
Prior Learning Assessment
Allow federal student aid to be used for payment of prior learning assessments.
Dual Enrollment
Enhance and incentivize dual enrollment program participation and programs that enable students to graduate high school with college credit or industry certification.

Affordable Opportunities
Today’s students need a federal student aid system with fewer barriers and adjusted for the realities they face.
Federal student aid programs should be updated to closely reflect the needs of today’s students, who are studying in a broader range of formats, often returning to education after a stop-out, and balancing education with work and family commitments. Federal policy should also work to break down financial aid and logistical barriers to re-entering higher education.

Support Returning Students
Reform federal student aid rules to remove barriers to reentry, including lifetime eligibility caps and satisfactory academic progress rules, for students coming back to higher education.
Count Income Correctly
Reform federal financial aid formulas to allow for more accurate and generous accounting of income and assets for independent students and student parents.Update Work Study
Reform Federal Work Study to incent completion, expand Job Location Development Programs, ease requirements for off-campus work, and incentivize the connection between aid and course of study.

Greater Transparency
Today’s students need better and more accurate information on the value of the program they choose.
Federal data systems need to first accurately reflect the makeup of today’s students by counting all types of students. With improved access to data, students and members of the public can better understand the return on investment that programs at colleges and universities deliver to students.
Count All Students
Improve data systems to reflect all of today’s students and provide information about the value of a prospective student’s education.
Strengthen Transparency
Implement a consumer friendly, easy-to-use system for students and their families to navigate postsecondary education choices
Strong Outcomes
Today’s students deserve a system that produces the outcomes that matter to them: high-quality learning, programs that lead to timely completion and prepare students for what’s next, either employment or more education.
Educational providers need to help students achieve strong educational, financial and employment outcomes, including completion, equity, employment, and value. Policymakers should hold institutions accountable for student outcomes and reward those who serve today’s students well.
Put Students First
Update requirements and regulations to ensure they are in line with high-quality learning and student success.
Strengthen Current Systems
Reform the contract the federal government has with other oversight bodies, including states and accreditors, to place a greater focus on student outcomes over compliance.

Today’s students deserve a system that works for them.

Visit our website to dive deeper into policy changes that can make college more affordable and meaningful for today’s students.