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American Dream 2.0 Report Declares High College Failure Rate A National Crisis

Furthermore, the coalition calls on the financial aid system to support innovative delivery models that can lower the cost of postsecondary education and better serve the growing number of "nontraditional" college students.  Today only 15 percent of students live on campus, 38 percent are enrolled part-time, and 25 percent have children.

Last, the coalition calls for a new financial aid system that fosters a culture of success. "At times over the last two decades it seems like we've been more comfortable doing nothing than doing something when it comes to improving federal financial aid.  But given the fiscal realities and the national imperative to increase postsecondary attainment, doing nothing comes at an increasingly higher cost to the country," suggests Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation and a coalition member.  "Today's structure and delivery is based on enrollment, regardless of whether or not students complete."

"Higher education is a model that is charging by the transaction and not the outcome," observes coalition member Dr. Carl Camden, president and CEO of Kelly Services, a Detroit-based staffing agency. "We must do better."

As part of The American Dream 2.0, HCM Strategists partnered with Hart Research Associates in collaboration with The Winston Group to conduct comprehensive public opinion research on what the public believes about college, affordability, and student financial aid. The research goes deep into the perceptions of parents, students, policymakers and institutional leaders to surface both challenges and opportunities as they relate to improving the aid system. "While many Americans say that major changes are needed in higher education, our research debunks the idea that the public has started to doubt whether college is still worth it," said Geoff Garin, president of Hart Research Associates. "African American and Hispanic parents in particular have high aspirations for their children to graduate college. For them, the question is not whether college is worth it but whether college success is attainable under today's circumstances."  

The coalition hopes that just as the "Nation at Risk Report" sparked a national debate in the 1980's about high school dropout rates, this report will similarly shine a bright light on college dropout rates and the impact not only to the lives of individual students but collectively to the health and well-being of our nation.  "Every citizen should have an opportunity to earn a credential," says Eduardo Padron, president of Miami Dade College, where more than two-thirds of students come from low-income families. "Anyone who doesn't get a college credential will never escape the cycle of poverty."

More information on The American Dream 2.0 including the full report, complete list of coalition members, Hart public opinion research, and fact sheets can be found at:

CONTACT: Libby May Phone: 301-529-7313Office: 202-547-2222


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