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Bipartisan Coalition Will Give Voice To A New Generation of College Students

July 23, 2019

Today’s Students Coalition pairs unconventional allies in support of policy changes that reflect the shifting demographics of higher education

WASHINGTONJuly 23, 2019 — Ten of the nation’s leading education advocacy groups today announced the formation of the Today’s Students Coalition, which will advocate for policies responsive to the needs of the most diverse generation of college students. 

“In an economy where the vast majority of jobs will require some form of postsecondary education or training, we need to rethink outdated assumptions about who today’s students are, the reasons why they participate in higher education, and the challenges and opportunities those students face each and every day,” said Kermit Kaleba, Managing Director of Policy for the National Skills Coalition. “We’re proud to partner with the other members of the Today’s Students Coalition to fight for policies that reflect the changing postsecondary landscape and ensure that everyone has an opportunity to succeed.”

According to the Lumina Foundation, more than 41 percent of today’s college students are over age 25. Well over half (58 percent) work full- or part-time, 34 percent are first-generation students, and 42 percent are low-income students. The Coalition draws on a cross-section of higher education organizations focused on this diverse student body, including adult students, parent learners, veterans, low-income students, and first-generation students. Founding members of the coalition include:

The coalition’s founding members recognize the urgent need for policy change and are committed to forging a new consensus, including a focus on three core policy principles:

  • Create Robust Student Supports: Today’s students require policies that support their needs, both inside and outside the classroom.
  • Modernize Student Financial Aid: Today’s students require a student aid system that is accessible, transparent, and adjusted for the realities they face.
  • Connect Learning Opportunities: Today’s students require flexible learning opportunities and connected pathways to and through education and employment.

“American higher education may have evolved over time, but that hasn’t happened by accident: it took students and advocates for affordability, access, and quality coming together to recognize that our mutual interests are greater than our biggest differences,” said Julie Peller, executive director of Higher Learning Advocates, which serves as the lead convener of the coalition. “We’re now at another moment for reforming American higher education by rethinking the policies that support it. We all share the belief that we need to rethink outdated assumptions about who today’s students are, the reasons why they choose to invest in higher education, and the challenges and opportunities students face each and every day.”

To learn more about Today’s Students Coalition and sign up for updates, visit TodaysStudentsCoalition.org.

About the Today’s Students Coalition: The Today’s Students Coalition is a cross-cutting group of policy, advocacy, and membership organizations that have joined forces to advocate for urgently-needed policy changes that will better serve today’s students. The Coalition is focused on supporting this diverse student body, which includes working adults, parent learners, veterans, and first-generation students.

UPCEA is a proud founding member of advocacy groups such as the Today's Students Coalition as well as the National Adult Learner Coalition.

UPCEA Policy Committee

Mary Niemec, University of Nebraska, Co-Chair
Dick Senese, Capella University, Co-Chair

Susan Aldridge, Drexel University
Kristen Brown, University of Louisville
Allison Friederichs, University of Denver
Ricky LaFosse, University of Michigan
Reed Scull, University of Wyoming


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