UW–Madison’s Hillman is co-author of proposal to increase college access, accountability

UW–Madison’s Nick Hillman is a co-author of an op-ed published in Inside Higher Ed that is titled, “A College Completion Program for Both Sides of the Aisle.”

nick hillman

Hillman is an associate professor with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, and the director of the Student Success through Applied Research (SSTAR) lab. He crafted the proposal outlined in the op-ed with Jerome Lucido (University of Southern California) and Donald Hossler (Indiana University Bloomington).

The authors start by highlighting a problem: “Virtually all the growth in the college-age population over the next two decades will come from groups that are currently excluded from or underserved by America’s colleges and universities.”

“It is imperative,” they write, “that we increase both the number of these students accessing postsecondary education and the odds that they will graduate.”

Looking at current policy proposals from both sides of the aisle, the authors identify a disconnect: While “Democratic proposals focus largely on (college) access and improvement,” they write, “Republicans are likely to call for greater accountability.”

Instead of picking one these foci at the expense of the others, the authors suggest there is a middle ground. They recommend establishing a Title I-type program that includes both access and accountability measures.

“To maximize the policy’s potential impact,” they write, “we believe any federal Title I-type program in higher education must establish both ambitious and achievable thresholds on two key metrics: (1) the percentage of Pell Grant students enrolled and (2) the percentage who graduate or successfully transfer to another postsecondary institution.”

They propose a straightforward design where postsecondary institutions that meet certain thresholds would receive a per-Pell-student federal subsidy.

“The more successful a college is in enrolling — and graduating — Pell students, the more student subsidy the institution would receive,” they explain. “This would not only reward those already serving low-income students well, but would also provide the needed resources to help colleges improve these metrics over time.”

To learn more about the proposal, check out the full op-ed at InsideHigherEd.com.