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Pushing the Envelope: State Policy Innovations in Financing HIgher Education for Workers Who Study

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Abstract:

Postsecondary education, accompanied by a credential documenting mastered skills, is an important ticket out of poverty for a significant portion of the working population. However, even community college can be out of reach for many low-income working adults. Federal and state financial aid programs, which help millions of students pay for college, are far less available to working adults. They face a variety of barriers to receiving financial aid and require a distinct set of financing policies and opportunities in order to enroll, persist, and succeed in college. State governments are in a unique position to address these challenges.

Pushing the Envelope, part of a series of Breaking Through policy reports, profiles 12 states that have amended or created student aid programs to better serve adult students. States typically have done so based on the proposition that investing in the education and skills of the workforce produces a return not only to individuals but also to businesses and the state. These states are leading innovators that have begun to push the policy envelope by expanding, changing, or creating programs that work for working adults.