Reverse Degree program at UofL, Jefferson makes real impact in students’ lives. With policy change, impact can be even greater.

By Mary Gwen Wheeler


The war for talent is raging among mid-sized cities like Louisville. If we want to compete for the information-age jobs of the future – or at least not be left behind — we need the kind of skilled, educated workforce that grows an economy.

Unfortunately, we aren’t quite there yet. While more than 65 percent of the jobs of the next decade require some training beyond high school, only 43 percent of the working-age population in Louisville has that level of education. That must change. And to change it, we must pursue and support innovative approaches to degree attainment.  (more…)

The crisis of college affordability and how student voices can help

By Mary Gwen Wheeler


Yuderka, a student at Lehman College in the Bronx, stood before a national conference for education advocates I attended last month and recounted the financial hardships she’s faced in her college journey. The mother of two has been chipping away at a bachelor’s degree for years, working more than 35 hours a week, forgoing basics and – even though she receives state and federal grants – racking up $50,000 in student loans to keep her family afloat.

Later at lunch, she told me how grateful she was for the aid she receives but, she said, “wow, has it been hard.”

Sixteen other students shared similar stories of adversity at the “Advancing Equity Through Affordability” conference hosted by the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) in Washington, D.C. The conference showcased the perspectives and challenges of these low-income and working-class students who are profiled in IHEP’s new report, The Cost of Opportunity: Student Stories of College Affordability.

The reality is that while grants and scholarships help, it’s just not enough anymore. (more…)