Governors Group Launches College Completion Initiative

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America’s governors – armed with statistics about poor college completion rates and a report outlining a methodology for improving the numbers – have launched an initiative to get more youth who enroll in college to complete their degrees.

The National Governors Association (NGA), through a program called Complete to Compete, is attempting to raise awareness about the United States’ decline from first to 12th among developed nations in the percentage of young adults with college degrees, and to set uniform higher education completion and productivity measures for use by states. 

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D), the NGA chair, said the country’s need to compete in a global economy is one reason to emphasize college completion. “This slide continues at a time when the economy demands more educated workers and Americans increasingly look to higher education as the path to economic success,” Manchin said in a prepared statement.

The governor pledged that the initiative “will bring together governors, higher education executive officers, campus leaders and corporate CEOs to make marked improvements in college completion and productivity and get our country back on track to produce a successful workforce for the future.”

Only 20 percent of students at two-year colleges graduate in three years or less and 40 percent of students at four-year schools finish in six years or less, according to nonprofit research group Public Agenda.

The NGA also issued a report with the initiative, Compete to Complete: Common College Completion Metrics, which details ways to document college completion, including using such outcome metrics as degrees and certificates awarded, and time and credits to degree, along with such progress metrics as retention rates and success in first-year college courses.

Contact: NGA (202) 624-5300,