The 101 on the College Completion Fund

We have a college completion crisis in America.Higher education is supposed to serve as an engine of social mobility, but just over half of students who start a postsecondary degree finish, it’s clear the system isn’t working for everyone.As a nation, we’ve made important strides in improving access and affordability for students in higher education, and an investment in completion is long overdue.

The College Completion Fund, initially proposed by the Biden administration in the American Families plan, is a first-of-its-kind federal investment focused on ensuring students get to and through college. The College Completion Fund has been brought to life through the Postsecondary Student Success Grant program. Now is the time for Congress to make this investment in evidence-based student success initiatives a salient component of higher education in the US. Here are three reasons why it must happen now:

1. The College Completion Fund focuses on scaling evidence-based programs to improve retention and completion at institutions with an above-average number of historically underserved students.

2. Those who start but do not complete degrees face the worst outcomes—borrowers who leave school with debt and no degree are three times more likely to default on student loans than graduates.

3. We already have proven programs that have shown how transformational investments in student success can be. CUNY ASAP doubled community college graduation rates within three years.


As Congress looks to advance the College Completion Fund, it should ensure that programs with the most robust evidence base are first in line to be scaled and receive the resources to expand the number of students they can serve.

TICAS:Comprehensive Approaches to Student Sucess Programs
TICAS:Sparking Equity: Facing the Crisis of College Affordability
New America:From Enrollment to College Completion
TICAS: Why the Postsecondary Student Success Grant Program Matters
New America:When Community Colleges Offer a Bachelor’s Degree
Third Way: How Social Belonging Impacts Retention at Broad-Access Colleges
MDRC: From Degrees to Dollars: Six-Year Findings from the ASAP Ohio Demonstration
Third Way: Sticky Facts on College Completion
MDRC: College Completion Strategy Guide
MDRC: Career Pathways: A Strategy to Boost College Completion and Economic Mobility
New America: Sustaining Evidence-Based Practices: Lessons Learned from ASAP
TICAS: FY23 Budget College Completion Coalition Letter
Third Way: The Making of a College Completion Fund
Third Way: How the College Completion Fund Can Boost Statewide Completion Rates
Third Way: Why College Completion Matters
Third Way: Voters Want to See Big Higher Education Investments in Build Back Better
Third Way: 10 Ways the College Completion Fund Supports Students
TICAS: The Retention & Completion Fund: What it Would Mean for Students and States
IHEP: Degrees When Due Case Study: Shasta College
UnidosUS:The Retention & Completion Fund is Key to Supporting Latinx Higher Education Students
MDRC: Improving College Graduation Rates With Multifaceted Student Support Programs
IHEP: Degrees When Due: Capacity & Completion
Third Way: What if CUNY ASAP Was Replicated Coast to Coast?
New America: Making a Case for the College Completion Fund
TICAS: Evidence-Based College Completion Programs at Four-Year Postsecondary Institutions
UnidosUS: Examples of Student Success Programs for Latinx Students
Third Way: Facts on the College Completion Fund
Third Way: Elevating College Completion
Third Way: Focusing in on College Completion: How Biden's Higher Ed Proposals Deliver for Students
SHEEO: Student Success Letter
TICAS: Where to Find Evidence-Based College Completion Programs Across the Country
IHEP/Lumina Foundation: These are some of the ‘open secrets’ that block college completion for many people
Higher Learning Advocates: Who Are Today's Students?
IHEP: Degrees When Due
IHEP: Innovative Strategies to Close Postsecondary Attainment Gaps: Advocating for Change During Times of Crisis
TICAS: Over 40 Organizations Call on Congressional Leadership to Provide $62 Billion to Increase College Graduation Rates
Third Way: Ripple Effect: The Cost of the College Dropout Rate

In the News

CUNY:CUNY Celebrates 100,000 Students Served by its Award-Winning Support Program for Community Colleges
Kansas Reflector: KSU, KU leaders and Marshall Endorse Broader Federal Reporting on Post-College Success Data
KQED: College Completion Rates Are Up for All Americans, But Racial Gaps Persist
Forbes: Do Stranded Academic Credits Lead To Stranded Students? How Transfer Of Credit Policies Impact College Completion
Forbes: Department Of Education Awards $30 Million In Dozens Of College Improvement Grants
Press Release: Department Awards Grants to Improve Opportunities and Outcomes for Nation's Postsecondary Students
Colorado Newsline: Just 62% of Colorado College Students Complete Degree. Neguse Bill Could Help.
Press Release: Stansbury, Neguse Introduce Legislation to Help Students Complete College
Bloomberg: Congress Should Help Students Reach the Finish Line
Los Alamos Daily Post: Heinrich: College Degrees, Not Debt, Will Grow The Economy
Inside Higher Ed: Down to $40 Billion
Higher Ed Dive: How Congress Can Move the Needle on College Completion
The Hill: As Community College Students Return to Class, Let's Help Them Graduate
EdSurge:Getting More Students Through - Not Just To - College
Diverse Issues in Higher Education: Panel Examines Biden's College Completion Fund
Press Release: Heinrich Announces New Legislation To Help Students Complete College
Inside Higher Ed: Biden's Higher Ed Spending Not as Big as Hoped
Forbes: OPINION: How A Federal College Completion Fund Could Be A Game-Changer
Hechinger Report: OPINION: We Can Help Low-Income Students, First-Gen Students and Students of Color Succeed in College, But Not Without Support
NCAN: President Biden Proposes Historic Pell Grant Increase in First Budget
Arnold Ventures: From Dropout to Dreams, With an Assist
Arnold Ventures:Empowering the Pursuit - and Completion- of College

Thanks for visiting!

Speak directly with experts working to make this happen:

American Federation of Teachers
Catherine Brown
National College Attainment Network
Nichole Dunn
Results for America
Lanae Erickson
Third Way
Roxanne Garza
Thomas Harnisch
State Higher Education Executive Officers Association
Kelly Leon
Institute of Higher Education Policy (IHEP)
Sarah Sattlemeyer
New America
Karen Quarles
America Forward
Reid Setzer
The Education Trust