Taking Action

Taking Action

The data are clear – the value of education after high school still depends a lot on a student’s race, ethnicity, income, or gender. That shouldn’t be the case. Fortunately, the data also point the way to steps colleges and universities, policymakers, and students and families can take – now – to change that.


Improving the returns on postsecondary education – for students and society – requires a shared effort.

College and university leaders

Need to examine and change policies and practices that keep students from clear paths to certificates and degrees that put them on the road to a better living and a better life. This includes improved academic mapping and advising, more targeted financial and academic support, and better use of data to identify disparities in serving students.

State and federal policymakers

Need to reconsider how much and how funding is allocated to students with the greatest need – and to the institutions that are serving them. Additionally, accountability systems for institutions need to have a stronger focus on equitable outcomes for students.

Students and families

Need to be empowered to ask fair questions about the costs and benefits of institutions and programs – and expect answers to those questions.

Action Agenda

Five actions for key stakeholder groups.

Institutional Leaders

What are five practices that institutions can implement to ensure that they are preparing all students – with an emphasis on students of color, students from low-income backgrounds, and women – to gain value in the workforce?

Federal Policymakers

What are five critical federal policies that can help ensure that postsecondary institutions and programs provide equitable value to students?

State Policymakers

What are five critical state policies that can help ensure that postsecondary institutions and programs provide equitable value to students?

Students and Families

What are the top five questions that every college or university should be able to answer about the value that prospective students can expect to receive from their education?

Our success depends on action. College and university leaders like me making the hard decisions to remove barriers for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. State and federal leaders investing in and recognizing opportunity and not prestige. Students and families demanding solid answers to the question “What is college worth?”

Eloy Ortiz Oakley, Postsecondary Value Commission Member

Learn more about the commission’s action agenda.

Read the Agenda