Using Completion-Goals Funding to Improve Accountability and Outcomes

The United States cannot meet its higher education goals without changing the way it funds public colleges and universities. Current funding models do not sufficiently advance fully scaled improvements. 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.

Complete College America (CCA) addresses this challenge with completion-goals funding, a new approach to managing higher education resources, helping colleges introduce proven reforms, and dramatically increasing completion rates. With completion-goals funding, colleges receive funds up front, and then they must meet completion targets. Completion-goals funding—an evolution of outcomes-based funding—is the next step in improving outcomes and meeting state completion goals.

Read the Executive Summary

Cover of Ending Unfunded Mandates report

Download the Report

Ending Unfunded Mandates in Higher Education offers six reasons for moving toward a new higher education funding model. And it presents a new model — completion-goals funding — in detail. For example, with completion-goals funding:

  • Colleges get the money they need to implement proven strategies up front, and then they must meet completion targets.
  • Funding 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.

With completion-goals funding,  the state’s investments will lead to meeting its completion goals. The state also will reap the economic and civic payoffs that come from having more credential holders in programs that meet workforce needs, provide better salaries, and allow for upward economic mobility.

Download the Report

View the accompanying Completion-Goals Funding Modeling Tool

To get started developing your state’s completion-goals funding model, use the CCA Completion-Goals Funding Modeling Tool, a companion to the report. This tool includes baseline data for every college in the country. States, systems, and colleges can view the data and run different funding scenarios to see how various choices affect outcomes.

View the Funding Modeling Tool

Completion Goals Funding Report

Completion Goals Funding Report


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CCA has been at the forefront of transforming higher education to increase college completion and center equity through a focus on the intersection of policy, practice, and perspective. If you’re ready to learn from your peers and help them learn from you, or if you are looking for support on how you can craft equity-driven policy at your institution, system, or state —contact CCA today

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