top of page

-Shana, Tennessee

"Child care or groceries. I couldn't afford both anymore. So I left college to pick up another job."

40 million Reasons

The untold Stories of why we need to widen the Path

Anchor 1

More than 40 million Americans – about 15% of the country’s population – have some college and no credentials. That’s #40MillionReasons to Widen the Path. 


Research from the National Student Clearinghouse reveals that there are 40.4 million Americans with some college and no credential (SCNC); an increase of 1.4 million in one year alone. 

graph- growingpop.png

The stories of the 40 million Americans who started college but did not earn a credential shed light on several hurdles in the current system, many of which are directly linked to policies that could be changed to allow students and potential students to return and earn a credential. 


With action from Congress, we can re-engage the 40 million and widen the path. 

Who are the 40.4 million Americans with some college, but no degree or certificate?

  • When asked, 61% of non-completers want another chance to pursue their education. 

  • Racial and ethnic minority students are overrepresented among SCNC students. Hispanic and Black students collectively comprised 43% of the total SCNC population.

  • Most students were younger than 35 at their last enrollment. 

  • Community colleges are the most common type of institution of last enrollment, re-enrollment, and first credential attainment for SCNC students.

  • Approximately 2.9 million (or 7.3% of the SCNC population) are “potential completers” who have already made at least two years’ worth of academic progress up until their last enrollment.


GettyImages-995858550 (1).jpg




Why fix the broken system of higher education?

Most non-completers want another chance: The problem isn’t the people; it’s the policies. Every untold story has a valid reason for an interrupted education – and an opportunity for a path forward to a degree or credential.

More prosperous households: Individuals who attain higher levels of education earn more and are more likely to be employed

Less need for public benefits: Individuals who attain higher levels of education are less likely to live in households that require means-tested public benefits. 

Where do we go from here?

We will persistently advocate for federal policy solutions that address the needs of today's returning adult students. Specific policy measures such as short-term Pell grants, SAP (Satisfactory Academic Progress) reform, and recognition of prior learning credits are instrumental in creating more pathways to student success.

College Lecture

Join the Buzz

Test your (not quite) college knowledge with this College Quiz.

bottom of page