College Completion, Affordability


Creating jobs is a top priority in the Southern states, and a better-educated workforce is an important strategy. SREB’s college completion initiatives urge states to adopt policies that will substantially increase the number of residents who complete a postsecondary credential each year. The goal is a higher percentage of state residents who hold college degrees or certificates.

Essential Elements of State Policy

SREB is bringing together statewide education agency leaders, legislators and other policy-makers to further define the essential statewide policies needed to increase the percentage of a state’s population with postsecondary credentials. These convenings will result in policy briefs on topics such as outcomes-based funding, time- and credits-to-degree, transfer, acceleration options, affordability and access.The work is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lumina Foundation.

Framework: No Time to Waste and Culture of Success

In 2010, SREB published two major reports that form the foundation for the organization’s work to help states make progress in college completion.

No Time to Waste: Policy Recommendations for Increasing College Completion challenges the 16-state region to lead the nation in improving college completion in the same way it did in K-12 education reforms in the 1990s. It sets an ambitious goal for the region: that 60 percent of adults ages 25 to 64 will hold a college degree or technical certificate by the year 2025. The recommendations include setting specific goals for each degree type and for graduation rates; attention to college costs and financial aid; improving high school students’ readiness for college; new practices to help more students succeed once they get there; greater efficiency in operations and paths to degrees; and bringing more students back to finish college.

Promoting a Culture of Student Success: How Colleges and Universities Are Improving Degree Completion examines strategies that states and public higher education institutions have used to help more students earn bachelor’s degrees, with particular attention to students with academic or economic disadvantages. The study identifies specific actions that contributed most significantly to graduation and reviews relevant state and systemwide policy. It profiles institutions that increased graduation rates without jeopardizing quality or limiting access for students from low-income households or with average to below-average test scores.