Postsecondary Value Commission Report Defines Value of Higher Education and Proposes Recommendations to Address Disparities

By Ayobami Olugbemiga, May 12, 2021

Washington, D.C. — The Postsecondary Value Commission – a commission of education leaders and experts, including NSC CEO Andy Van Kleunen – today released a new report to better define and measure the value of higher education and the role that it should play in promoting opportunity, paving an equitable path to economic mobility, and dismantling racial disparities. 

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched the Postsecondary Value Commission in April 2019, in partnership with the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP). The Commission’s goal was to define the value of postsecondary education in the U.S., taking a critical look at how well it contributes to economic opportunity for students and families. 

Students experience postsecondary value when provided equitable access and support to complete quality, affordable credentials that offer economic mobility and prepare them to advance racial and economic justice in our society, the report states in defining the value of higher education. 

The report highlights many of NSC’s policy priorities, including improving data transparency to expose equity gaps and empower families to make informed postsecondary decisions. It calls on state policymakers to strengthen career pathways by allocating state workforce development resources to create industry partnerships between employers and institutions that serve students of color and students from low-income backgrounds.  

The report also highlights the need to pair career counseling with financial aid. It emphasizes the need for credentials to have value in the labor marketAnd it calls for policies to cover the full cost of attendance – tuition and non-tuition supports – including connecting students to safety net benefits.  

“It was an honor to serve as a member of the commission,” said Andy Van Kleunen, CEO of National Skills Coalition. “NSC’s mission to make college work for working people will be enhanced by the Postsecondary Value Commission’s call to fully measure and hold policies and institutions accountable to the economic outcomes that many working people and students of color seek from higher education.” 

The report represents the culmination of two years of research and contributions by a diverse array of expertswhich also included NSC Senior Fellow Amy Ellen Duke-Benfield, who served on the Commission’s Research Task Force.  

Download Postsecondary Value Commission’s full report, executive summary, one-pager, and action agenda