Search form

Advanced Search
Thursday July 30, 2015

Close, but No Degree: Rutgers Report Calls for Policy Changes to Improve College Graduation Rates

News Release
Monday March 26, 2012

Close, but No Degree: Rutgers Report Calls for Policy Changes to Improve College Graduation Rates

Your Source for University News


The report calls for better integration of higher education opportunities into New Jersey's workforce development system.

 Even in New Jersey’s highly educated workforce, with 44 percent of adults
possessing at least a two‐year degree, almost a fifth of adults age 25‐64
have started college but never finished.

Inexpensive policy changes can enable the
state’s agencies and colleges to improve college completion rates in the state
and simultaneously meet workforce goals, according to a new report, Close, but No Degree, by the Center for
Women and Work (CWW)
at the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers

“An educated workforce is important to New
Jersey’s economic viability,” says Heather McKay, co-author of the report and
director of CWW’s Innovative Training and Workforce Development Research and
Programs. “With an associate’s degree and every additional credential after,
workers are given the opportunity to earn more and improve their career
prospects. Yet, despite benefits to workers and the overall economy, graduation
rates are not growing fast enough to meet expected demand.”

Close, but
No Degree
advocates better
integration of higher education opportunities into the state workforce
development system, which could expand options for the 18 percent of New Jersey
workers who have some college credits but never obtained a degree. For example,
the report recommends expanding an existing policy that helps workers receiving
unemployment insurance gain college credit.

Cecilia Grobard, a Watchung, New Jersey
resident, is among the beneficiaries of this policy. After losing her job of 31
years in the airline industry, she used the unemployment insurance program’s
benefits to complete a bachelor’s degree, graduating from Rutgers in 2004 with
high honors.

“It is a wonderful sense of accomplishment that
would have been financially difficult for me to do without this benefit,” says
Grobard, who graduated from Rutgers on the same day as her daughter, Talia, and
immediately got a job as an Italian teacher at North Plainfield High School.

The report’s other recommendations include:

  • Improving a 2007
    law designed to facilitate the move from community colleges to New Jersey
    public four-year colleges and universities to make credit transfer more
  •  Identifying  students poised to complete college,
    specifically those who lack 12 credits or less and provide them with flexible
    options and support services, such as online learning and counseling
  • Developing a formal
    collaboration between the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and
    Higher Education
  • Providing
    assistance to help students succeed in degree programs, including strong case
    management and alternative routes to earning college credit, such as conferring
    credit for work experience
  • Identifying
    mechanisms to fund tuition and programs for adult students based on need.

The report, co-authored by McKay and Elizabeth
Nisbet, a CWW postdoctoral research associate, was funded by the Working Poor
Families Project, a national initiative to strengthen state policies to better
prepare America’s working families for a more secure economic future.

“When workers have invested so much in degrees
they were unable to finish, it makes good policy and financial sense to devise
solutions that help them achieve their goals,” says Nisbet.


Founded in 1993, Rutgers School of Management
and Labor Relations’ Center for Women and Work (CWW) is an innovative leader in
research and programs that promote gender equity, a high-skill economy, and
reconciliation of work and well-being for all. CWW addresses women’s
advancement in the workplace, conducts cutting-edge research on successful
public and workplace policies, provides technical assistance and programs to
educators, industry, and governments, and engages issues that directly affect
the living standards of New Jersey’s and the nation’s working families. Areas
of concentration include: Workforce Development, Education and Career
Development, Women’s Leadership and Advancement, and Working Families.

For more information on CWW, visit:

Media Contact: Renée Walker
(848) 445-7582

Your Source for University News