Dear IHEP Community,
Around the country, millions of students are heading back to school - a rite of passage filled with hope and excitement. Similarly, this year's back-to-school ritual coincides with my own back-to-work experience. Earlier this year, I stepped away from the daily work of IHEP to welcome a new addition to my family, a baby girl. My daughter has enhanced my world and inspired an even deeper commitment to narrowing the equity gaps still facing too many of our students.
The hope for a better tomorrow inspires many first-generation, working class, and students of color within our colleges and universities today. These hardworking students begin a new school year seeking to better themselves and their communities by earning a college degree or credential. Sadly this hope and optimism won't be enough to catapult them across the completion finish line; too many will face access, affordability, and other challenges along the way. And if those barriers weren't already enough, many are impacted by hate-filled rhetoricswirling on college campuses and threats to undocumented students.
These issues are tough, but not insurmountable. Together, we can ensure that policy reforms help more students and the IHEP team has been busy doing just that. Earlier this summer, we published The Potential of Degree Reclamation, a brief outlining how schools can help the "some college, no degree" student population complete their associate's degrees and receive credentials when sufficient credits are earned. We spoke out against actions that impede students' ability to learn and against harmful cuts to the Pell Grant program. In May, we testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development about the importance of strengthening postsecondary data quality in the interest of student outcomes. Subsequently, we released Better Data on the Horizon: An Analysis of Evolving Student-Level Data Legislation. The IHEP team is working continuously in support of students.
All students, regardless of race, socio-economic or immigration status, deserve the opportunity to pursue a postsecondary education. And this fall, we will redouble our commitment to college access, success, and affordability. Our ongoing work to ensure that postsecondary data is secure and protects student privacy will be showcased in a new report. We'll launch a new initiative - Degrees When Due - to help states, postsecondary systems, and institutions scale degree reclamation strategies nationwide. And finally, we'll continue informing advocacy efforts to repeal state funding bans on postsecondary opportunities for incarcerated men and women enabling them to secure good jobs upon release and strengthen their communities.
The IHEP team remains relentless in our efforts to ensure that all students in school today, exit in a timely fashion with a high-quality degree or credential tomorrow.
Michelle Asha Cooper, Ph.D.