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 as only about 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, 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. Congress should make this proposed investment in evidence-based student success initiatives for three big reasons:

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.

Applications to the College Completion Fund Are Now Open


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.

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?
Third Way: Ripple Effect: The Cost of the College Dropout Rate
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
APLU: Publics Letter in support of College Completion Fund

College completion matters. To add your voice to the chorus, submit a video telling us why investing in higher ed student success is important to you!

Thanks for visiting!

Speak directly with experts working to make this happen:

American Federation of Teachers
Catherine Brown
The Institute for College Access & Success
Nichole Dunn
Results for America
Lanae Erickson
Third Way
Roxanne Garza
Thomas Harnisch
State Higher Education Executive Officers Association
Piper Hendricks
Institute of Higher Education Policy (IHEP)
Amy Laitinen
New America
Karen Quarles
America Forward
Reid Setzer
The Education Trust
Lindsey Tepe
Association of Public and Land-grant Universities