Today's Student


Updating federal policy could help address factors at the
root of challenges faced by today’s students — such as
finances, hours worked and family responsibilities — to
help boost all students’ success.



Data that students and policymakers can use


Data gathered about students should represent the full spectrum of today’s students, not just first-time, full-time enrollees. Policymakers and students need actionable, useful information to make smart decisions about postsecondary education.

Students need clear information to make educational choices about programs and costs, including what the likelihood of success of other students who are like them. The current data, centered on a small subset of students, do not allow for such projections.

Policymakers need to be able to assess institutional and programmatic success for the entire student population to make smart policy choices for today’s students.

Require institutions to report data on all students, not only first time, but full time.

Time is the EnemyPersistence patterns of non-first-time (NFT) college studentsFact Sheet: 4.8M College Students Raising Children

Ensure that metrics and data are comparable across providers and states considering a significant percentage of today’s student’s transfer among institutions and across state lines

Voluntary Institutional Metrics Project PDF A Better Higher Education Data College Blackout


Yesterday’s student aid system doesn’t serve today’s student

Financial aid should be redesigned with a focus on the needs of today’s students, especially those who are on their own financially and need to attend classes outside of the traditional two-semester approach. Applying for aid should not be a barrier.

Self-supporting students struggle with the costs of housing, transportation and childcare, compounding woes about loan debt and making it less likely they will graduate.

Today’s students are more likely to attend classes outside of the two-semester schedule.


Ensure that aid is flexible enough to meet unique needs that may arise throughout a student’s term, including being able to draw down student aid regardless of current award year limitations to account for “lumpy”, anticipated and unanticipated costs of textbooks, transportation, housing, and childcare

Beyond Financial Aid Breaking With Tradition

Student loans should be repayable in a reasonable period and at a reasonable rate

A Benchmark for Making College Affordable College for All The Case for Payroll Withholding

Additional aid should be available to students to incentivize year-round registration and to facilitate acceleration to a high-quality degree or credential

Myths and Misunderstandings: The Underserved Legacy of Year-round Pell Grants Great Expectations: Implications of implementing prior-prior year income data for the FAFSA NASFAA FAFSA Working Group Simplifying Student Aid: What it would mean for states Better for Students: Simplifying the Federal Financial Aid Process


Encourage innovation to keep up with today’s student

Federal policies ought to be flexible so that colleges and universities can develop break-the-mold practices and programs for maximizing the success of today’s students. Rigid rules around financial aid and other issues stifle schools’ ability to innovate so that all students’ needs can be best met.

Today’s students are learning in a variety of places. Federal policy can support pathways so that all of students’ learning, including from the workplace, can be counted toward a degree or credential.

Modes of educational delivery are changing to engage today’s students outside of the traditional classroom.


Recognize high-quality learning wherever it’s obtained—experiment to allow for students to use financial aid funds at a variety of postsecondary education providers such as experience in the military, employer-provided training, etc.

Untapped Potential Beyond the Skills Gap Making Education Work for Students, Employers, and Communities Deeper Learning and the Power of the Workplace Quality Assurance and Alternative Higher Education


Encourage postsecondary education providers, including institutions of higher education and non-institutional postsecondary providers, to collaborate with one another to develop the best path to a degree or credential for students

Sharing Responsibility for College Success Transferability of Postsecondary Credit Following Student Transfer or Coenrollment Cracking the Credit Hour Competency-based Education and Federal Student Aid Measuring Mastery How Competency-based Education Providers Serve Students
Streamline and eliminate unnecessary regulatory barriers to institutional change and student success, allowing institutions to focus on student needs and student outcomes, including through risk-informed regulatory approaches
Getting Our House in Order Recalibrating Regulation of Colleges and Universities Moving Beyond College