Topic: College Completion


College Completion

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: a higher percentage of state residents who hold college degrees or certificates

Publication February 20158 pages(15C03)

Community Colleges in the South: Strengthening Readiness and Pathways
Executive Summary of the SREB Commission on Community Colleges

The executive summary of the report of SREB’s Community College Commission summarizes findings and outlines 21 recommendations for states and community colleges to increase college access and success so more students earn postsecondary credentials and enter careers in demand in their communities.



Postsecondary Attainment Goals
in SREB States

State 2016
Attainment Level
Goal By
Alabama 37.9% Add 500,000
highly skilled
Arkansas 39.9% 60% 2025
Delaware 43.2% none none
Florida 46.9% 55% 2025
Georgia 48.0% 60% 2025
Kentucky 44.6% 60% 2030
Louisiana 45.7% Reach the SREB
attainment level
Maryland 50.6% 55% 2025
Mississippi 37.5% Reach the national
attainment level
North Carolina 47.4% none none
Oklahoma 41.8% 70% 2025
South Carolina 42.0% 60% 2025
Tennessee 40.7% 55% 2025
Texas 42.4% 60% of adults
ages 25-34
Virginia 52.2% 70% 2030
West Virginia 34.7% 60% 2030

Blog post September 2015 Commission meeting

Part-Time Students = 38% of Undergrads
Affordability Commission focuses on needs of adult and part-time students

Part-time college students made up 38 percent of undergraduates in SREB states by 2013. Many part-time students work to pay their living expenses as well as tuition, and the more hours they work, the longer it takes them to finish, on average. Part-timers are eligible for less financial aid, and they tend to file later, missing early deadlines.

Publication February 201545 pages(15C02)

Community Colleges in the South: Strengthening Readiness and Pathways
Report of the SREB Commission on Community Colleges

The full report of SREB’s Community College Commission offers 21 recommendations for states and community colleges. It presents findings on readiness, placement, math standards and structurally guided pathways to help students clearly see entry, exit and re-entry points to continue their education. Recommendations ask states to commit increased funding and hold colleges accountable for improving student services and completion. The goal: increase college access and success so more students earn postsecondary credentials and enter careers in demand in their communities.

Download Full Report

Publication 201215 pages(12E01)

Redesigning Dual Enrollment to Promote College Completion

This SREB Policy Brief, part of the Challenge to Lead education goals series, documents current dual enrollment policies in SREB states and offers key policy considerations for redesigning these policies to aid states’ college completion initiatives. It defines dual enrollment, discusses how participation benefits students and reviews the current structure of these programs in SREB states, including key issues about structure that state leaders need to understand. The report also offers recommendations to state leaders to address possible issues with dual enrollment policies.



Essential Elements of State Policy for College Completion:
Outcomes-Based Funding

Outcomes-based funding awards dollars to public colleges in part based on meeting goals, rather than on enrollment only, and is one strategy states are considering to increase postsecondary completion. Essential Elements of State Policy for College Completion: Outcomes-Based Funding details practices in states across the country, examines the questions policy-makers need to answer if they explore this strategy, and presents SREB’s recommendations for eight essential elements of an effective statewide outcomes-based funding policy aimed at improving completion.

Publication March 20138 pages

Statewide Transfer Policies
Essential Elements of State Policy for College Completion

College students face many barriers transferring from one institution to another  — which can increase cost and time for students and raise the likelihood they may drop out before graduation. This report details best practices in state policy across the SREB region, examines the questions policymakers need to answer when updating transfer policies, and presents SREB’s recommendations on the essential elements of a clear, seamless and comprehensive statewide transfer policy.


Publication May 20137 pages

Dual Enrollment Courses and Credits
Essential Elements of State Policy for College Completion

More public high school students are turning to dual enrollment programs for a head start in college and careers. This paper — one in SREB’s series on the essential elements of state policy to increase college completion — highlights state actions on dual enrollment in SREB states and explores its link to college completion. Recommendations and six issues for policy-makers to consider are included.


Publication Dave SpenceNovember 20138 pages

State Policies to Support a Statewide College- and Career-Readiness Agenda
Essential Elements of State Policy for College Completion

A statewide college- and career-readiness agenda signals clearly and universally what knowledge and learning skills or readiness standards are essential for students to succeed in a substantial majority of postsecondary education programs. The standards need to be reinforced by a series of additional steps that include assessment, supplemental course work, and school accountability. SREB’s College- and Career-Readiness Action Agenda includes five essential components across the educational pipeline: 1. Adopt statewide readiness standards. 2. Assess high school juniors for readiness. 3. Offer transitional readiness courses for juniors assessed as underprepared. 4. Apply the standards in college placement. 5. Hold schools accountable.


Publication Megan RootJanuary 20138 pages

Transitional Courses for College and Career Readiness
Essential Elements of State Policy for College Completion

Offering high school courses to prepare underprepared students for success in college or career training after graduation is a key strategy to reduce remediation, increase postsecondary completion and provide greater access to making a living wage. This Essential Elements policy brief details efforts in states across the nation, outlines questions policymakers need to address, and recommends 12 essential elements for an effective statewide policy to implement transitional courses.


Publication Dave Spence, Cheryl D. Blanco, Megan Root201022 pages(10E10)

No Time to Waste
Policy Recommendations for Increasing College Completion

States need to place a major focus on increasing the numbers of students who complete college degrees and career certificates toward the goal of having 60 percent of working-age adults earning some type of high-quality credential by the year 2025, a major new report and set of recommendations from the Southern Regional Education Board urges.


Publication April 201052 pagesA. Paul Bradley Jr.of The Bradley Group, Cheryl D. Blanco

Promoting a Culture of Student Success: How Colleges and Universities Are Improving Degree Completion

Fewer than one-third of degree-seeking, full-time freshmen in the nation’s public four-year institutions graduate in four years. To help raise this rate, SREB examined many strategies that public institutions are using to help more students earn bachelor’s degrees, with particular attention to students in regional colleges and universities who often face academic and/or economic disadvantages. This report summarizes 15 institutions’ successful approaches to improving graduation rates, provides specific strategies that campus leaders can use and profiles each of the 15 institutions.


Publication 201028 pages(10E13)

Measuring Success by Degrees: The Status of College Completion in SREB States

For the last two decades, college degree-attainment rates in both the SREB region and the nation have remained flat. This report, part of the Challenge to Lead education goals series, looks at where the SREB region stands on improving two- and four-year degree and certification completion rates. It shows what is at stake if SREB states do not raise these rates and challenges states to take action.Measuring Success by Degrees complements the recent SREB report No Time To Waste: Policy Recommendations for Increasing College Completion, which details how states can meet these challenges.

Download PDF

Publication November 201116 pages(11E08)

New Measures, New Perspectives: Graduates’ Time- and Credits-to-Degree in SREB States

The SREB-State Data Exchange has designed new measures on college completion in recent years — and collected and reported data based on these measures. This Research Brief introduces the latest new measures, distinguishes them from graduation rate measures, and reports the first results on time-to-degree and credits-to-degree in the SREB region. It also provides information on the characteristics of graduates, focusing primarily on their beginning status at the institutions from which they graduated.