Washington, D.C., Aug. 25, 2010—The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) and Lumina Foundation for Education announced today a groundbreaking initiative—working with both community colleges and four-year institutions in select states—to find formerly enrolled college students whose academic records qualify them to be awarded an associate’s degree retroactively. The three-year $1.3 million effort, called “Project Win-Win,” also hopes to identify former students who are “academically short” of an associate’s degree by nine or fewer credits and re-enroll them to earn a degree.
Through Project Win-Win, IHEP will coordinate and assist 35 community colleges and four-year institutions in six states: Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Participating institutions will spend significant time on auditing student records for degree eligibility and locating the potential degree completers. For each school, this is a two-year, multi-part process involving a detailed examination of institutional data that includes: identifying students, matching student records with state system records and other available data, conducting degree audits to determine student eligibility, determining any administrative barriers to degree award for those who are eligible, and contacting potential degree earners to help them finish their degrees.
Each participating institution receives a small grant to support its efforts, administered—with other support—by its state system central office. The State Higher Education Executive Officers is a key partner in Project Win-Win, working with the system offices and identifying potential new state policies and practices.
“We’re pleased to be spearheading an innovative effort that could potentially award and recognize the hard academic work already performed by so many students,” said IHEP President Michelle Asha Cooper, Ph.D. “Furthermore, Project Win-Win has the potential to make a considerable down-payment on increased degree completion goals set by state governors and the Obama Administration.”
During the 2009-10 academic year, nine Project Win-Win institutions first participated in a pilot program in partnership with Education Trust. The original seven-month project awarded nearly 600 associate’s degrees and identified almost 1,600 students who were considered potential degree recipients. While considered successful, the pilot program also identified several challenges along the way, including problems with changes in local data systems, incompatibility between local and state data, insufficient degree audit software, missing transcripts from other institutions, and locating students who might be eligible for degrees, among others. Nonetheless, based on the early results from the pilot institutions, extending the estimates across all of U.S. higher education would mean, at a minimum, a 12 percent increase in the number of associate's degrees awarded.
IHEP Senior Associate Clifford Adelman designed and is directing Project Win-Win, building upon his extensive experience in analyzing the group of students who has earned 60 or more credits but had not earned a degree.
The project is being supported by Lumina Foundation for Education, an Indianapolis-based private foundation striving to help people achieve their potential by expanding access to and success in education beyond high school.
For general information about IHEP, visit the organization’s Web site at www.ihep.org.