nontraditional students

3 ways to actually support nontraditional learners

As today's nontraditional learners become the majority of higher-ed students, new policies should support them

In the report, the authors offer suggestions to improve data, develop more robust or integrated financial aid and employment policies, and tailor academic programs in ways that would strengthen how post-traditional learners are served.

Improving data:
• At the national level, build on ongoing improvements to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System that allow for a better understanding of college-going patterns of post-traditional learners.
• At the state level, leverage Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems to better understand the relationship between post-traditional learners’ learning journeys and outcomes.

Developing policies:
• Continue to invest in the Pell Grant Program in ways that make college more affordable for post-traditional learners.
• Better align federal financial aid and unemployment insurance policies.
• Tap into new research on the Federal Work Study Program to explore ways to better serve post-traditional learners.

Tailoring academic programs:
• Acknowledge learning that occurs outside higher education.
• Embrace systems and consortia.
• Use institutional data, policies, and systems to prescribe the right delivery models and services.
• Create better engagement between higher education and the workforce.

Laura Ascione