Skip to content

Higher Education Systems Announce Metrics for Accountability to Ensure Value of a College Degree

December 7, 2022

Colleges and university leaders convene in the nation’s capital in support of transparent targets to increase degree completion, improve social mobility, and reduce student debt

Baseline data shows that college graduates are three-and-a-half times more likely to significantly improve their income bracket

For Immediate Release: December 7th, 2022
Contact: David Belsky; 347-227-0055;

Washington, DC – The National Association of System Heads today released first-ever collective goals for higher education systems to increase degree and credential completion, improve social mobility, and reduce student debt.

The announcement was made at the annual convening for the Power of Systems, NASH’s strategic agenda to advance prosperity for the nation. As the country grapples with rising costs of living, NASH aims to assure Americans in the grips of a fierce public debate over the value of a degree that college is, in fact, worth it.

Speakers at the event include U.S. Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal; Director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce Tony Carnevale; and Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed, amongst many others.

“American higher education is at a crossroads: our nation needs a highly skilled workforce to compete globally, but college enrollments continue to decline,” said Rebecca Martin, executive director of NASH. “Our new metrics paint a clear picture that university leaders understand the challenge at hand and are prepared to roll up their sleeves and get to work to ensure our students are successful on campus and in their careers.”

By embracing integrated services, shared academic programs, and predictive data analytics, systems will close equity gaps and deliver access, completion, and success for all students, state by state, by 2030.

“College is worth it, and we’re going to prove it,” said Nancy Zimpher, director of the Power of Systems at NASH and chancellor emeritus of The State University of New York. “What gets measured gets done, and together we will scale what works to move the dial on student success. Today, graduates are three-and-a-half times more likely to significantly improve their income than those who don’t attend college. By moving beyond competition and toward collaboration, systems will ensure that value proposition is even greater.”

NASH convened a task force, chaired by Tristan Denley, deputy commissioner of academic affairs and innovation at the Louisiana Board of Regents, and drawn from a broad group of stakeholders and content experts, to develop these system-level metrics and targets. In partnership with NCHEMS, NASH created a novel dataset and baseline report, which allows a view of NASH member system performance across the three metrics from 2019-20. These include:

Increasing Degree & Credential Completion
NASH member systems will produce over 1,000,000 additional degrees and credentials by 2030. This will be accomplished by collectively increasing degree and credential completion by 35 percent from 2019-20 baseline levels by 2030. Additionally, equity gaps will be reduced by 50 percent by 2030, resulting in an additional 80,000 degrees and credentials for minoritized students.

Improving Social Mobility
By 2040, NASH member systems will advance 85 percent of students from families in the bottom 40 percent of the income distribution to the top 60 percent of the income distribution, and 65 percent of students in the bottom 40 percent to the top 40 percent. To measure progress, by 2030, the median income of students in the bottom tertile eight years after enrollment will exceed the national median.

Reducing Student Debt
By 2030 NASH member systems will decrease the median debt borrowed by Pell students by 25 percent from 2020-21 baseline levels. In addition, the equity gap in three-year repayment rates between Pell recipients and non-Pell recipients will be reduced by 50 percent from 2019-20 baseline levels (19 points). This would result in an estimated $7 billion reduction in borrowing by low-income students by 2030.

With baseline data published and goals set, NASH will move expeditiously. Systems will work collectively to identify evidence-based practices to improve outcomes for millions of students by scaling proven solutions across the country.

About the National Association of System Heads
Founded in 1979, the National Association of System Heads (NASH) represents chief executives of the 65 public higher education systems in the United States. Member institutions work collaboratively to advance innovation and change in public systems of colleges and universities. To learn more about NASH and its national initiative, the Power of Systems, visit


Media Contact

David Belsky