Our mission continues – with renewed commitment to expanding opportunity for all students.

While our Alliance has made incredible progress, the data shows that there is still more to do. Significant achievement gaps still persist across the nation and proven strategies for improving student success are not yet the norm everywhere. From better serving returning adults to partnering with Minority Serving and Metro institutions, Complete College America is dedicated to doing more – and doing it more effectively. Please join us as we deepen our commitment to ensuring students of every race, gender, age and income level complete college with credentials of value and purpose.



Overall, college completion trends are positive. But gaps in college completion persist, and in some cases are growing larger. The on-time graduation gap between Hispanic and white students is unchanged. Between African American and white students, it’s widening. And the divide in outcomes between traditional-aged students and returning adults continues to grow larger. The Alliance recognizes that attainment goals can’t be met unless these gaps are addressed. We have a moral and economic imperative to do better.

Better Deal: Returning Adult Students in Florida

15 to Finish: Early Wins at Minority-Serving Institutions


MSI Initiative

Minority serving institutions (MSIs), whether designated by enrollment or an historical mission, continue to be at the forefront of culturally responsive and equity centered practices in the Guided Pathways movement. Last year, in partnership with CCA Alliance member the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), and with support from the Kresge and Lumina Foundations, CCA accelerated our work by launching an MSI Initiative with 19 select Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic-Serving Institutions. Leaders from these institutions have shown that early student momentum can be gained through 15 To Finish campaigns that can set the tone with early credit accumulation success that is a precursor to other CCA Game Changer strategies (Corequisite Support, Math Pathways, Academic Maps with Proactive Advising, A Better Deal for Returning Adults).

Early results are strong from the initial 15 To Finish adopters in the CCA MSI Initiative. The data and words from these transformational institutions and leaders speak volumes.


First-time, full-time Freshmen enrolled in 15 or more credit hours increased from 25% in 2016 to 47% in 2017, a 22% point increase

Students registered for 15 or more credit hours have a cumulative GPA that is 10% higher than the overall population and nearly 17% higher than students taking less than 15 credit hours.

“We know there are many obstacles faced by our students in their effort to pursue a higher education. Inadequate financial resources and affordability often limit the future success of these bright young people. A key component of how HSSU addresses these challenges is keeping tuition cost down. Our tuition structure, in conjunction with the 15 to Finish Program, allows HSSU students to not only receive a quality education at an affordable price, but to also graduate on time with less debt. We are thrilled to be able to offer HSSU students a way to save money and experience everything the university has to offer. 15 to Finish is an integral part of Harris-Stowe State University’s effort to get its scholars to the finish line.”  – Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack, President


First-time, full-time Freshmen enrolled in 15 or more credit hours increased from 66% in fall 2016 to 90% in fall 2017, a 24% point increase

“The success of any university must be reflected on the number of students who enter and graduate on schedule and with minimal debt. In spring 2017, the university held a campus town-hall (opening institute) on student success, inviting Complete College America (CCA) to join in the conversations. A university-wide retention goal around a bold new initiative titled 77 in 27 was established, with the goal of attaining a 77% retention rate in 10 years (2027). The 90% figure in credit hours enrollment is the highest at the university since 2014. Undergirding all of these efforts is the professional development of CAU faculty and staff as a key driver for successful implementation. These initiatives have paid off.” – Dr. Peter Nwosu, Provost


First-time, full-time Freshmen enrolled in 15 or more credit hours increased from 30.4% in fall 2016 to 44% in fall 2017, a 14% point increase

“Building on a long tradition of innovation by HBCUs in service to Black students, we immediately recognized the value of the 15 to Finish strategy when our student success team participated in a Complete College America event in Oklahoma last spring. Since launching a 15 to Finish campaign on the Langston campus, there has been a dramatic shift in the conversation between students, faculty and staff around on-time degree completion. More students are aware of the benefits to them and the cost savings to their families and are now setting themselves on a path to on-time graduation.” – Dr. Kent Smith, President

Looking Ahead

The results from participating institutions are early and still require additional exploration of academic success within the numbers of hours earned and retention beyond the first year, but the excitement remains. Many more students at MSIs are on track for continued learning and on-time graduation, and this is just the beginning. With Fall 2018 student cohorts, we will begin to see new and additional results from all of the participating institutions committed to scaling 15 To Finish across their entire student population: Benedict College, Clark Atlanta University, Delaware State University, Dillard University, GateWay Community College, Grambling State University, Harris-Stowe State University, Jackson State University, Langston University, Lawson State Community College, Merced College, Mercy College, Mississippi Valley State University, Norfolk State University, Phoenix College, Pima Community College, San Joaquin College, Texas Southern University, and West Virginia State University.

Emerging Leader: CCA Fellow Elena Quiroz-Livanis


Joining CCA

Elena Quiroz-Livanis had just started working at the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education when she was asked to join the CCA Alliance Team for the Commonwealth.

“I had recently joined the Department and we needed someone to serve as the CCA Alliance Lead, so I was asked to serve in this role,” she said. “I remember going to a CCA event in Minneapolis and learning about a just-released RFP for states that wanted to bring the Corequisite model to scale. I thought, ‘that would be excellent for Massachusetts.’”

At the time, Massachusetts had some institutions implementing Corequisite Support, but they were not seeing the results that could come from scaling the work across the  state. Quiroz-Livanis led campus faculty and staff in a thorough examination of current practices and what a comprehensive developmental reform strategy might look like for Massachusetts.

The Importance of Collaboration

As a result, the state began collecting data on Corequisite Support and is now planning to go to scale with Corequisite Support, Math Pathways, and Multiple Measures by academic year 2020-2021.

Quiroz-Livanis is quick to recognize the important role of faculty and administration in this developmental education redesign work. “We don’t do things top-down in Massachusetts,” she said. “I’m proud that we’ve been able to get where we are today through collaboration, and it’s because we listened and learned from campus staff who are on the front lines working with students.”

Now wearing two hats as both the Department’s Chief of Staff and Director of Academic Policy and Student Success, Quiroz-Livanis has also recently been appointed as a Complete College America Fellow for her leadership in Massachusetts. She is enrolled in the higher education doctoral program at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

An Emerging Leader

“It’s an incredible honor,” said Qurioz-Livanis. “Being part of a group and having conversations about what’s working, how to collaborate with all of our stakeholders and putting students first has been incredibly refreshing and invigorating.”

Quiroz-Livanis continues to work on implementing student success strategies in Massachusetts in tandem with her participation in CCA. In both roles, she is focused on equity.

“Massachusetts has more adults with post-secondary credentials – 56.2 percent – than any other state,” Quiroz-Livanis observes. “But if our low-income students and students of color aren’t completing at the same rate as their more affluent or white peers, then we need to do a better job of supporting them.”

When called an emerging leader, Quiroz-Livanis says it just means she is still learning from people in Massachusetts and across the country. “I’ve been on the shoulders of giants and have been given an incredible opportunity to learn from people who are questioning how things have been done and are finding innovative ways to do things better.”

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