NEWS

April 18, 2017

CCA Praises University System of Georgia’s Selection of CCA Fellow Tristan Denley as Chief Academic Officer

National nonprofit Complete College America released today the following statement from organization president Tom Sugar regarding the appointment of Dr. Tristan Denley as chief academic officer and executive vice chancellor of academic affairs for the University System of Georgia:

Governor Nathan Deal and Chancellor Steve Wrigley today added vital momentum to their visionary Complete College Georgia initiative with the addition of Dr. Tristan Denley, one of the most influential thought leaders in the country on student success and college completion, as chief academic officer. A proven leader and partner in efforts to make college completion more possible and affordable, Dr. Denley will help accelerate reform in the state and ensure that even more students are able to secure the promise of a college education.

April 12, 2017

Statement from CCA President on New York’s Excelsior Scholarship Program

National nonprofit Complete College America released today the following statement from organization president Tom Sugar regarding New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s tuition-free college plan:

“Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Excelsior Scholarship signals a powerful focus on student success and college completion in the State of New York, while strengthening the ongoing efforts to increase college access for middle- and low-income residents. The program’s 30-credit requirement – which has been criticized by some – is a research-proven strategy to raise GPAs, increase retention rates and ultimately boost college completion in the state. Further, this built-for-completion scholarship is a call to action to institutions to make structural changes that put more students on track for on-time graduation, providing a better return on investment for taxpayers and saving New York families millions of dollars in the process.”

April 5, 2017

DATA SNAPSHOT: On-Time Graduation and the Credits Needed to Get There

15 to Finish Efforts Now Spreading Across the Country as States and Institutions Look to Boost On-Time Completion Rates, Reduce Student Debt

Complete College America released today the first in a series of data snapshots that explore key metrics on college completion, affordability and student success. The first report, which looks at national on-time completion rates and credit accumulation, points to 15 to Finish initiatives as a proven tool to boost the number of students who are on track for on-time graduation, ultimately reducing student loan debt in the process.

Data show that most full-time college students are not taking the number of credits needed each semester to graduate on time. With standard requirements of 60 and 120 credits for associate degrees and bachelor’s degrees respectively, students should be taking at least 30 credits each year in order to stay on track. Unfortunately, just one out of every four full-time students does so.

KNOW THIS: Far too few “full-time” students take the credits needed to graduate on time.

15 Data Snapshot

The result: just 40% of full-time students at four-year, flagship institutions and 20% at four-year, non-flagship institutions graduate in four years; 5% of full-time students at two-year institutions graduate in two years.

The CCA data snapshot also shares disaggregation of the data by race and Pell status for both graduation rates and credit accumulation.

KNOW THIS: Students from underrepresented populations are less likely to graduate on time.

underrepgraph
In response to these troubling numbers, states and institutions around the country are launching 15 to Finish campaigns to highlight the consequences of graduating late – including increased loan debt and lost wages – and encouraging students to take at least 15 credits per semester or 30 credits per year (including summers) to ensure on-time completion. The campaign also highlights the fact that students who take at least 15 credits per semester are not only more likely to complete, they do better academically and are more likely to be retained year over year.

15 to Finish campaigns have been launched in nearly 30 states, including eight state-wide initiatives being launched this year in partnership with Complete College America. CCA also recently joined with NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising to release Shared Principles for Boosting On-Time Graduation and to encourage the nation’s advisors to take part in 15 to Finish initiatives.

While not all students will be able to take 15 credits per semester, providing information about what it takes to graduate on time ensures students are making informed decisions about course loads, the time it takes to graduate and the costs associated with their academic pathway.

“There’s a glaring disconnect in American higher education: Most students tell us they want to graduate on time, but too few finish enough college courses each year – including summers – to do so,” said Complete College America President Tom Sugar. “Our work across the country is empowering states, higher education systems and institutions to help more students accomplish more college credits each year, saving them and their families millions of dollars and making the dream of a college degree much more likely.”

Sample of 15 to Finish Results

Hawai’i

The University of Hawai’i System – where 15 to Finish originated – launched an aggressive marketing campaign to inform students of the importance of taking 15 credits per semester or 30 credits per year. In just one year, the initiative saw dramatic increases in the percentage of students taking 15 credits, including at the Manoa campus, where the percentage of students taking 15 credits jumped from 38% to 64%.

Georgia

The University System of Georgia, through their Complete College Georgia initiative, has achieved some of the most significant results to date in their efforts to boost credit accumulation and ensure students are on track for on-time graduation, with increases as high as 77 percentage points in the number of students taking at least 15 credits per semester. Among the results, Augusta University increased their numbers from 8% in 2012 to 85% in 2015; Clayton State University increased from 11% to 73%; and Georgia Southwestern State University increased from 16% to 85%.

Indiana

Following the launch of the state’s 15 to Finish initiative, institutions across Indiana saw notable increases in the number of students taking and completing 30 credits each year. At Ball State University, Purdue University West Lafayette and Indiana State University, roughly 80% of students now take 30 credits per year.  Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) increased the percentage of first-time, full-time students taking 15 credits from 28% in 2012 to 69% in 2016. The institution’s data also indicate that all full-time undergraduates (not just first-time, full-time students) are taking more credits. In fall 2011, 36% of IUPUI undergrads were enrolled in 15 or more credits; in fall 2016, that number grew to 60%Purdue University Northwest saw similar gains: in 2011, just 27% of first-time, full-time students enrolled in 15 or more credits in their first semester, but by 2015, 67% were taking the number of credits needed to graduate on time.

Mississippi

Mississippi’s 15 to Finish initiative, entitled Finish in 4, has led to significant increases in credit accumulation throughout the state. The Institutions of Higher Learning, which provides guidance and management over Mississippi’s public universities, reports that the percentage of Mississippi undergraduates enrolling in 15 or more credits increased from 49% in 2011 to 66.8% in 2016. Additionally, 87.3% of first-time, incoming students at IHL’s institutions now take 15 or more credits in their first semester.

Nevada

15 to Finish campaigns led to major boosts in the percentage of first-time, full-time students taking at least 15 credits per semester at many of the Nevada System of Higher Education‘s institutions, including at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where numbers increased from 36.2% in fall 2012 to 63.6% in fall 2014. At the University of Nevada, Reno, numbers increased from 62.3% to 80.1%.

You can view Complete College America’s national 15 to Finish campaign video here.

March 3, 2017

Board of Directors Names Tom Sugar President of Complete College America

Complete College America’s board of directors announced today that Tom Sugar has been named president of the organization. Sugar takes the helm of the national nonprofit after serving as senior vice president, a role he’s held since the organization’s founding in 2009.

As senior vice president, Sugar served as the chief strategist and senior advisor for the organization, overseeing activities in a number of states and leading work around the country on guided pathways. Sugar has also led efforts to grow the organization’s Alliance and doubled the size of the Annual Convening, a national event that now brings together more than 600 higher education and policy leaders in furtherance of the college completion agenda.

Additionally, Sugar has served as Complete College America’s chief communications officer, leading advocacy efforts and managing the development and publication of multiple, nationally-recognized college completion reports, including Time is the Enemy, Remediation: Higher Education’s Bridge to Nowhere, The Game Changers, Four-Year Myth and Corequisite Remediation: Spanning the Completion Divide.

Prior to joining Complete College America, Sugar served for 25 years in government and public policy, including assignments as director of communications and planning for a governor and as chief of staff to members of both the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate.

“Complete College America has a singular purpose: to enable our states to improve the rate of completion of a quality college degree or career certificate. Tom Sugar definitely gets that.  Tom has worked alongside Stan Jones from the founding of Complete College America in 2009 through today, enabling substantial improvements in each of our partner states,” said CCA Board Chairman and former Wyoming Governor Jim Geringer. “Tom is passionate about improving student success.  He knows that our funding partners and our CCA staff are motivated by demonstrated results.  Likewise, our partner states look to CCA to show what works and to lead on how to make it happen.  Our CCA Board is fully confident in Tom’s ability to carry on Stan Jones’ original work and in Tom’s knack for innovation and improvement.  Tom’s leadership of the extraordinarily talented team at CCA will ensure that our states and our nation benefit from improved college completion rates and the closing of achievement gaps for our nation’s students.”

“It has been the greatest professional honor of my life to work alongside Stan Jones to raise awareness of America’s college completion challenge,” said Sugar. “When we started Complete College America nearly eight years ago, access and enrollment were the principal topics in campus leadership offices. Not so today: the 43 states, regions and metro areas that constitute our Alliance are urgently moving forward new policies and practices that maintain access while significantly boosting student success – for the benefit of all students, especially those too often left behind. But this is no time to rest on our laurels. Complete College America’s most important work still lies ahead, and I am humbled to lead our talented team onward, expecting more of ourselves and our Alliance partners to rapidly deliver results for our country’s students – and by extension all Americans. Now more than ever, we’re all in this together.”

bio_tom_sugar

 

January 10, 2017

Complete College America and NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising Launch Effort to Boost On-Time Completion Rates, Reduce Student Debt

Complete College America and NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising – an organization representing more than 12,000 members – announced today a joint effort to boost on-time completion rates and reduce student loan debt in partnership with the nation’s academic advisors. The initiative supports academic advisors’ integral role in college completion efforts and encourages participation in 15 to Finish campaigns that increase credit accumulation and provide students critical information about on-time completion.

As part of the announcement, the two organizations released Shared Principles for Boosting On-Time Graduation, outlining the challenges facing today’s students and the role advisors can play in the solution. Data show that most full-time American college students do not graduate on time – just 41% of full-time students at four-year, flagship institutions and 20% at four-year, non-flagship institutions graduate in four years; 5% of full-time students at two-year institutions graduate in two years (CCA Data Collection). Additionally, most full-time students are not earning the 30 credits needed each academic year to graduate on time.

While not all students will be able to take 15 credits per semester, providing critical information about what it takes to graduate on time ensures students are making informed decisions about course loads, their time to degree and the costs associated with their academic pathway.

15 to Finish campaigns highlight the consequences of graduating late – including increased loan debt and lost wages – and encourage students to take at least 15 credits per semester or 30 credits per year (including summers) to ensure on-time completion. Additionally, research has shown that students who take at least 15 credits per semester are not only more likely to complete, they do better academically and are more likely to be retained year over year.

The result is a win-win for students and the schools they attend: better grades and faster completion for students and higher enrollments for colleges. 15 to Finish initiatives also help drive other changes, including scheduling solutions and financial incentives, to ensure institutions and systems are doing their part to make increased credit accumulation possible for their students.

Results from around the country show that many more students could be taking the credits needed to graduate on time. The University of Hawai’i System – where 15 to Finish originated – has doubled the percentage of first-time freshmen who enroll in 15 or more credits in their first semester. Since launching the initiative at its urban campus, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis has increased the percentage of first-time, full-time students taking 15 credits from 28% in 2012 to 69% in 2016.

“There’s a glaring disconnect in American higher education: Most students tell us they want to graduate on time, but too few finish enough college courses each year – including summers – to do so,” said Complete College America Interim President Tom Sugar. “This vital partnership with academic advisors will empower these frontline leaders with tools and strategies to help more students accomplish more college credits each year, saving themselves and their families millions of dollars and making the dream of a college degree much more likely.”

“It is essential that advisors provide learning experiences for students by teaching them why taking 15 hours is important, but also helping them prepare for the study habits and time management needed to take this full load,” said NACADA Executive Director Charlie Nutt. “Teaching students how to develop proactive plans for being successful when taking 15 credits is the key role for academic advisors – not just informing students to register for these credits. This teaching role for academic advisors is essential in the success of all students in higher education today.”

The new partnership will provide resources, campaign materials and technical assistance, building upon the 13 state-wide and more than 120 campus-based 15 to Finish initiatives that are currently under way.

You can view Complete College America’s new 15 to Finish campaign video here.

About Complete College America

Established in 2009, Complete College America is a national nonprofit with a single mission: to work with states to significantly increase the number of Americans with quality career certificates or college degrees and to close attainment gaps for traditionally underrepresented populations. For more information, visit our website (http://www.completecollege.org/).

About NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising

Chartered in 1979, NACADA promotes student success by advancing the field of academic advising globally. NACADA provides opportunities for professional development, networking, and leadership for its diverse membership. For more information, visit our website at (http://www.nacada.ksu.edu)

November 11, 2016

University of Hawai’i System receives first-ever CCA President’s Award for “uncommon leadership” in national college completion efforts

National nonprofit Complete College America (CCA) announced today that the University of Hawai’i System is the inaugural recipient of not one, but two, Complete College America President’s Awards. The announcement was made as part of CCA’s 2016 Annual Convening of the Alliance in San Francisco, an event that brought together close to 600 higher education leaders and advocates from around the country.

CCA established the President’s Award to recognize innovation and outstanding contributions to national college completion efforts, especially as it relates to the organization’s five Game Changer strategies. Stan Jones, president of Complete College America, said the award honors “those who demonstrate uncommon leadership and courage – the innovators who have been unwilling to tolerate the shortcomings of the current higher education system and instead endeavor every day to ensure many more students are able to graduate.”

In presenting the award to the University of Hawai’i System, Complete College America highlighted Hawai’i’s STAR program – an internally developed technology solution designed to help students complete their degrees on time. The easy-to-use interface allows students to track their progress toward completion, review degree requirements and milestone courses along their academic pathway, and explore the impact of scheduling decisions and changes in major on the time it will take them to graduate.

The University of Hawai’i System was also recognized for the creation of 15 to Finish, a campaign that encourages students to take 15 credits per semester (30 credits per year) – the only enrollment level that ensures on-time graduation. Since its launch as part of the Hawai’i Graduation Initiative, 15 to Finish campaigns have been implemented by seven states at scale and an additional 120 institutions nationwide. An additional seven states have committed to launching campaigns in 2017.

“The University of Hawai’i system understands that for far too many students, college takes too long, costs too much and graduates too few,” Jones said. “President Lassner and his team have charged forward to address these challenges head on, choosing to lead, not to follow.”

Jones went on to say, “The 15 to Finish and STAR initiatives are a powerful combination, providing students not only with the information, but also the structure necessary to graduate on time. We are grateful for the leadership Hawaii has shown and look forward to the work we will continue to do together.”

“This honor really recognizes the work of many people across UH for over 15 years,” said Lassner. “It has taken persistent vision and focus by administrators, IT specialists, advisors, faculty and students to put us in this national leadership position. Every day we are advancing our homegrown Graduation Pathway System, STAR, in new ways to help more UH students across our statewide system complete college in a timely manner, also saving money for them and their families.”

Thurgood Marshall College Fund and Complete College America Announce New Partnership to Boost Graduation Rates in Nation’s HBCUs

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) and Complete College America (CCA) announced today the formation of a new partnership that will focus efforts on boosting graduation rates throughout the nation’s black colleges, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominately Black Institutions (PBIs). The announcement was made as part of CCA’s 2016 Annual Convening of the Alliance in San Francisco, an event that brought together close to 600 higher education leaders and advocates from around the country. TMCF President & CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. served as the closing keynote speaker for the event.

TMCF will join CCA as the 41st member of the organization’s Alliance – a network of states and institutional consortia that have committed to completion goals and implementation at scale of the organization’s Game Changers strategies. TMCF’s membership, which greatly enhances CCA’s ongoing efforts to close achievement gaps, is the first of its kind – representing a national consortium of nearly 50 publicly-supported black colleges that will now have access to the full breadth of CCA’s resources and technical assistance efforts.

“HBCUs have long been our nation’s greatest champions for ensuring access to college, especially for African American students,” said Complete College America President Stan Jones. “Today’s announcement demonstrates the seriousness of their commitment not only to access, but to student success and completion. We applaud the Thurgood Marshall College Fund – and the colleges they represent – and look forward to working together to dramatically boost college completion rates and close achievement gaps.”

“I am extremely proud of this partnership and TMCF’s inclusion because it is solution driven. It’s no secret that black college graduation rates could be higher. TMCF is committed to be apart of the solution to educate, empower and encourage students on our campuses to stay the course, finish the race and graduate,” said Johnny C. Taylor Jr. “The strategic alliance with CCA is timely and I have no doubt will lead to positive outcomes for our students and member-schools. This is a new day for black colleges.”

The first joint project for TMCF and CCA will be the collection of completion data using CCA’s Common College Completion Metrics. The initial collection – which will explore graduation rates, credit accumulation, time to degree, and remediation rates, among other data – will provide baseline information to advance the organizations’ shared mission to close achievement gaps.

In addition, TMCF will also be launching a national 15 to Finish campaign with member institutions to encourage more students to take at least 15 credits per semester (30 credits per year)—the only enrollment level that puts students on track for on-time completion. The 15 to Finish initiative, which began at the University of Hawai’i, is one of Complete College America’s five Game Changing strategies.

The two organizations will invite philanthropic partners to help fund broad-based implementation of CCA’s strategies at HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions.

October 26, 2016

Complete College America announces recipients of inaugural GPS Direct Seal of Approval and Emerging Technology awards

Complete College America today announced the first-ever recipients of the GPS Direct Seal of Approval and Emerging Technology awards. The two awards recognize software tools that most effectively promote college completion and student success through alignment with the organization’s Guided Pathways to Success (GPS) initiative.

For 2016, the award program evaluated vendors and their software solutions for functionality that supports pathways, including the ability to default register students onto their chosen academic map, easy integration of the registration process and software, and the mechanisms for ongoing monitoring and reporting for when students get off track.

The 2016 GPS Direct Seal of Approval recipients are EAB and CollegeSource. The Emerging Technology Award recognizes EduNav and Full Measure Education.

Each of the four award recipients met the standards established by CCA’s Seal of Approval Advisory Board – a blue-ribbon panel of top technologists and higher education leaders. Seal of Approval recipients exhibited a wider scale of implementation and longer tenure in pathways work. Emerging Technology Award recipients show smaller-scale implementation, but demonstrate innovative approaches and new thinking on the role of higher education technology in student success and the trajectory towards completion.

“With student debt now totaling $1.3 trillion, states and institutions must recognize that one of the most powerful steps we can take for college affordability is to ensure many more students graduate on time,” said Stan Jones, president of Complete College America. “GPS Direct is laser-focused on this goal, and we’re thrilled that these developers are providing technology solutions that help students get on track, stay on track and ultimately graduate.”

Complete College America Senior Vice President Tom Sugar, who oversaw the selection committee, stated, “Technology plays an important role in promoting on-time completion. These vendors have not only shown the efficacy of their solutions, they have fully embraced the transformative and proven philosophy that putting students on highly-structured degree maps and monitoring their progress can dramatically boost college completion rates.”

The award recipients will be recognized as part of Complete College America’s 2016 Annual Convening in San Francisco, California on November 11th.

September 22, 2016

Colleges in Four States to Develop New Career-Focused Student Advising Model

USA Funds Awards Complete College America $1 Million Grant to Develop and Deploy Purpose First Models

USA Funds® and Complete College America today announced that higher education and institutional leaders in four states will develop Purpose Firsta new model of best-practice student advising tools. The new advising model will combine career assessment and counseling, college return-on-investment data, and labor market information to assist college students in making more fully informed and deliberate choices of majors and careers. The announcement comes as, this week, leaders from each of the participating states gather in Denver, Colorado, to formally launch their work.

The two-year initiative, funded by a $1 million grant from USA Funds, will enable students to pursue their college goals with a stronger sense of purpose, increased motivation, and enhanced confidence that a chosen program of study matches academic and personal strengths, and a clear understanding of future career opportunities.

The four systems selected to participate in the demonstration project include:

  • Community College System of New Hampshire and members of the university system
  • Tennessee Board of Regents
  • University of Hawaii System
  • University of Houston and Houston Community Colleges

 

A total of 30 two-year and four-year colleges from the four systems will work collaboratively to develop and implement a set of tools and practices that other postsecondary institutions can replicate to improve student outcomes through advisement. The new model will encourage students to explore career aspirations and choices early in their college years and help them pursue a more direct path, through their academic course work and career training, to connect with quality employment and rewarding careers following graduation.

“USA Funds is pleased to support Purpose First, an innovative approach to advising of college students to help them make more informed decisions about the ‘big choice’ of which major and career to pursue,” said Carol D’Amico, USA Funds executive vice president, National Engagement and Philanthropy. “To ensure students get the most from their tuition dollars, they need to follow a more purposeful path through college and into rewarding careers, guided by real-time information about the needs of the labor market that students will enter following graduation.”

“College students should not have to engage in random acts of enrollment as they chart their path through American higher education,” said Complete College America President Stan Jones. “By putting purpose first, we ensure they won’t have to. We give them tools to make better informed decisions on the front end, provide a clear path to graduation day and ensure they have the resources necessary to get there.”

About USA Funds

USA Funds is a nonprofit corporation that supports Completion With a Purpose®, building a more purposeful path for America’s students to and through college and on to rewarding careers and successful lives. USA Funds pursues its nonprofit mission through philanthropic activities and partnerships, policy research, and programs and services that enhance preparation for, access to and success in higher education. Learn more at www.usafunds.org.

August 18, 2016

#15toFinish Materials Now Available

15toFinishMaterials

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