Sarah Ancel


Student-Ready Strategies

Sarah Ancel


Student-Ready Strategies

Sarah has a unique combination of local, state and national experience in higher education policy and practice and a proven record of successful student-focused reforms. She is a policy expert, a strategic and tactical implementer, and a keen analyst of data, environment, and opportunities. She is a leading national voice in serving non-traditional student populations more effectively.

Before forming Student-Ready Strategies, Sarah served as Senior Vice President for Complete College America. Sarah was responsible for the CCA Alliance, coordinating its 45 Complete College Alliance Teams from across the country and the network of CCA Fellows. Her work propelled state and system leaders to advance their attainment and equity goals through concrete plans, aligned policy, and CCA support. Sarah also spearheaded and oversaw CCA’s newest Game Changer, a Better Deal for Returning Adults. Sarah served as CCA’s primary policy expert and has worked with Governors, legislators and SHEEOs to craft policies that support college completion and close equity gaps.

Before joining CCA, Sarah served as Associate Commissioner for Strategic Planning and Policy for the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. In that role, she was responsible for implementing the Commission’s strategic plan by overseeing foundation-funded projects, coordinating Commission activities and developing and advancing the Commission’s legislative priorities. She came to that role after spending nearly a decade contributing to the fiscal management and oversight of Indiana’s state and local governments.

Before joining CCA, Sarah led an effort to revamp Indiana’s approach to serving adult learners, particularly those who started college but never finished. Sarah was the architect of financial aid reforms that aligned Indiana’s aid dollars to on-time completion goals. As a fiscal leader, Sarah led a modernization effort that converted 2,600 local governments from paper-based financial reporting to a web-based process with a public-facing transparency website for voters and taxpayers. On staff at CCA, she has worked to enhance and systematize Alliance Relations, craft a new Game Changer strategy, and create clear processes for engaging with states on policy.

Sarah holds an M.A. in Economics from Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from Indiana University Bloomington. She served her alma mater as an adjunct economics professor for three years and in 2016 was awarded a Career Achievement Award from the IU School of Liberal Arts.


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15 to Finish

Boost the number of students who are on track for on-time graduation by encouraging enrollment in 15 credits each semester (30 credits per year, including summers). Financial aid dollars, as well as institutional process and practice, should support that standard.

Math Pathways

Ensure all students enroll in and complete gateway math in their first year by designing math courses that are aligned with the skills students need for their chosen program of study.

Corequisite Support

Increase gateway course completion within the first year by enrolling entering students into the college-level math and English courses, providing those who need additional help a concurrent course or lab that offers just-in-time academic support.

Momentum Year

Build momentum so students meet first-year benchmarks: informed choice of meta major or major, enrollment in 30 credits with nine in the program of study and completion of gateway courses. Provide early support and guidance for decision making, using interest assessments and labor-market data.

Academic Maps with Proactive Advising

Default students onto highly-structured academic maps that include 15 credits per semester (or 30 per year), indicate milestone and pre-requisite courses, and empower advisors to effectively monitor progress and provide intervention as needed.

A Better Deal for Returning Adults

Increase degree attainment by inviting adult learners back to complete their education, providing a redesigned system that offers accelerated courses, year-round enrollment and predictable schedules. Give credit for prior learning and experience and additional support to help students navigate the system.

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