By 2031, 72 percent of U.S. jobs will require education or training beyond high school. The United States is not on track to meet these employment needs. Moreover, individuals—both those who have earned credentials and those who have not—are drowning in education debt. And institutions, particularly those that serve historically excluded students, struggle to find funding to make improvements that are essential for meeting completion goals

The United States will be unable to meet its higher education goals without changing the way it funds public colleges and universities, says this report from Complete College America. Current funding models do not sufficiently advance fully scaled improvements, the report states. Instead, today’s models create unfunded mandates: Colleges are required to increase completion rates, but they do not receive essential funding until after improvements make an impact.

The study proposes a new “completion-goals funding” model in which colleges get the money they need to implement proven strategies up front, and then they must meet completion targets. Funding also is based on the actual cost of educating enough students to reach statewide completion goals. It includes both investing in proven success strategies and eliminating inefficiencies.

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