Newswise — Almost 1 in 5 Americans who attend college never receive a degree. In 2015, there were more than 35 million such Americans aged 25 years and older who had some college, but no degree leaving them with debt after investing considerable time and resources into their education.

Jason Taylor, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Utah, along with his colleagues at the Institute for Higher Education Policy recently released a brief to provide institutions and states with recommendations on how to help students receive associate degrees, to outline the degree reclamation imperative and to offer a vision for scaling this strategy across the country to reach significantly more students.  

Degree reclamation offers a combination of evidence-based and equity-focused strategies to help institutions support potential completers in attaining degrees that are meaningful to their education and career goals.

“It is time for colleges and universities to re-engage former students and help them finish the degree they started,” said Taylor. “Some former students may have already completed their associate degree, but the institution never conferred it. Degree reclamation strategies help institutions identify these students and confer degrees that were earned. Institutions heavily invest in recruiting new students, but if students leave without completing their degree, many schools do not invest in outreach to re-engage those students to help them complete their degree.”

Taylor also co-authored a literature review for a special issue of Community College Review focusing on transfer. The special issue will be available without a subscription through Oct. 31, 2017

“Vertical transfer from community college to university dominates perceptions of transfer, but it does not account for those who move laterally within a sector, those who transfer from a four-year to a community college, those who swirl, and those who enroll in multiple sectors simultaneously,” concluded Taylor.