Our Focus

The Commission on the Value of Postsecondary Education (Postsecondary Value Commission) will focus on the economic returns of education after high school, recognizing that there are real and significant non-economic returns, such as developing critical and creative thinking skills and enhanced health and civic participation, many of which are directly related to employment and career outcomes.

Drawing on current research, the commission will approach the value of certificates and degrees, at a minimum, in terms of of where a student enrolls and what they study, how much they pay for their education, whether or not they complete a credential, and their post-college earnings.

Equity is at the center of the commission’s work. It is essential to understand whether and how colleges and universities create value for all students, especially low-income students and students of color, who experience greater challenges achieving certificates and degrees and realizing their economic benefits.

Our Members

The commission is made up of 30 leaders and experts from inside and outside higher education. Members bring a broad and diverse range of experience to this work as educators, executives, researchers, advocates, and students. And they are united in their commitment to expanding educational opportunity and ensuring that opportunity doesn’t depend on race and income. Learn more about each commission member.

Our Work

The commission’s aim is to provide useful information—and a way of understanding that information—to help colleges and universities take a critical look at how and how well they are contributing to economic opportunity for today’s students, and to make changes in policy and practice to improve their contributions.

The commission will explore a range of options for gauging the economic outcomes for students earning undergraduate certificates and degrees, including (but not limited to):

  • Students’ post-college earnings in relation to their ability to repay their debt;
  • Earnings premiums over not pursuing education after high school; and
  • Post-college economic mobility.

The commission will share its findings in early 2021, which will include:

  • A proposed definition of postsecondary value to guide institutional improvement efforts and policy conversations about increasing students’ post-college economic success and mobility;
  • A measurement framework to gauge how programs at specific colleges and universities create value for students and where gaps exist by race and income; and
  • An action agenda with steps that college and university leaders, policymakers, and students and families can take to promote the improvement of value for all students, especially low-income students and students of color.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is supporting the work of the commission, with the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) serving as the managing partner.

For more information about the commission’s work, download the fact sheet, get answers to frequently asked questions and visit the resources page.