The Graduate! Network – The Comebacker’s Odyssey: The Journey to Degree Completion

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The Graduate! Network – The Comebacker’s Odyssey: The Journey to Degree Completion

A persistently large share of the U.S. adult population has started college and earned some credit but has not yet realized the myriad premiums available to those who have completely a degree. In fact, forty-five million adults 25 and older in the US have earned some college credit but have not yet earned their degree. This relatively invisible group represents 20% of the adult population; Black adults and adults of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity (any race) are disproportionately represented among those who started college and have not yet completed their degree. Until we substantially decrease the number of adults who have some college but no degree (SCND), our work in education attainment is far from over.

For over a decade, The Graduate! Network has inspired communities, states, practitioners, and higher education institutions to establish practices in support of the educational aspirations of adults, whom we celebrate and call “Comebackers.” In a report completed with funding support from the Ascendium Education Group, we trace the journey of such individuals. “The Comebacker’s Odyssey” includes a literature review, a quantitative analysis of the Network’s program data and National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) enrollment records, and qualitative analysis of interviews conducted with Comebackers and questionnaires fielded from higher education partners. Based on the findings from this report and the cumulative experience over the years, The Graduate! Network has identified the following top policy and communication priorities that would enable students to return to college and complete degrees: revamp the Pell Grant Program, eliminate debt traps, and increase use of employer-offered tuition assistance plans.  

Read about the journey, challenges and successes these individuals encounter in “The Comebacker’s Odyssey”, inspired by the stories and data from eight communities that utilize the Network’s community-based neutral navigator model.

Accesss the report here.