May 29, 2024

New Report Outlines Recommendations for Promoting Equitable Value of Postsecondary Degree

AASCU releases new report examining the role of Student Success Equity Intensive in advancing postsecondary value for students; highlights role of institutional leadership and culture in eliminating equity gaps.

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Kellee Edmonds
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WASHINGTON, May 29, 2024 – Today, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), with support from the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), released a new report exploring how institutions participating in the Student Success Equity Intensive (SSEI) are expanding capacity to increase student success and advance equitable postsecondary value.

Transforming at Scale: How AASCU’s Student Success Equity Intensive Promotes Equitable Postsecondary Value includes analysis of the 33 institutions participating in SSEI, providing an examination of the institutional transformation they are undertaking to serve students equitably, as well as detailed recommendations for how institutional leaders can increase capacity to close equity gaps and transform outcomes in the future.

“The findings from this report underscore the transformative potential of regional public institutions to improve student success, particularly for Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and low-income students,” said Charles L. Welch, AASCU president and CEO. “This report further signals the importance of capacity building and the role of AASCU member institutions in creating affordable pathways for all students to achieve their full potential.”

SSEI is a comprehensive multi-year initiative designed to help institutions close the equity gaps of their Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and low-income students. The report builds on the work of the Postsecondary Value Commission (PVC) and includes results from an Institutional Transformation Assessment, which helps drive equitable transformation. Data from IHEP’s Equitable Value Explorer were also used to analyze if students are better off financially because of their postsecondary education. Collectively, the institutions participating in SSEI enrolled more than 403,000 undergraduate students, with approximately 51 percent of those students identifying as students of color and 41 percent receiving Pell Grants.

“Institutions transform differently. Understanding ‘how’ institutions transform and assessing the necessary capacities required for transformation is important. The analyses provided in the paper serve as a means of assessing institutional capacities and measuring the value institutions deliver to serve students equitably,” said Prateek Basavaraj, AASCU’s senior research analyst and primary author of the report.

Key findings from the report include:

  • 29 of the 33 institutions identified ‘leadership and culture’ as a crucial institutional capacity to close equity gaps. The survey highlighted the need for a shared understanding of student success, cross-campus collaboration, and incorporating student voice.
  • 21 institutions named the importance of institutional research with a focus on the importance of data literacy and culture along with robust data governance structures.
  • Each of the institutions participating in SSEI surpassed the Postsecondary Value Framework’s Threshold 0 (T0), which measures if a student graduating was better off financially than if they did not attend college. More than half of the institutions surpassed the high bar of Threshold 3 (T3), which means their learners earned enough to move into the upper-middle income quintile.

The report’s findings help illuminate practices that policymakers and institutions should implement to continue to promote student success and the financial value of college degrees. The practices build on driving forward policy efforts that can lead to a lower cost for students, including more need-based aid and doubling the federal Pell Grant to expand access and enable greater economic return for low-income students in particular.

For institutions, the recommendations included a focus on ensuring that institutional research or effectiveness offices have the capacity to collect, analyze, and disaggregate student-level data by race, ethnicity, and income. Moreover, institutions should prioritize innovative, student-centered decision-making at the institutional level.


The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of 350 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development. These are institutions Delivering America’s Promise.