TAP: The Solution for Access, Affordability and Attainment

Access, affordability and attainment are recurring topics in higher education these days. These issues are closely linked and each affects the other. Each of them also impacts the United States businesses and economy. Businesses have an effective tool to make the link between access, affordability and attainment a positive impact on their workforce.

Access to education is often directly related to affordability; financial concerns are something businesses can address with tuition assistance programs that help employees pay for higher education. A TAP program makes higher education affordable and helps students attain the necessary skills and degrees that both employees and employers need.

“Older students are particularly relevant when considering college graduation and labor supply,” says Jeffrey T. Denning author of Upjohn Institute report Born Under a Lucky Star: Financial Aid, College Completion, Labor Supply, and Credit Constraints.

Non-traditional students are very close to, or already part of, the workforce. Many have achieved some college credit and could use tuition assistance to access higher education and ultimately attain their degree. “These students have accumulated substantial college credit, but many do not graduate in a timely manner. In fact, only 44 percent graduate in the year they turn 24. Some never graduate, and 17.3 percent have not received a bachelor’s degree after 4 years. These students are at the margin of graduation, and additional financial aid may enable them to accelerate their progress toward a degree or help them complete a degree when they otherwise would not.”

Tuition assistance can provide the financial support that working adults need. With it, they can enroll continually and develop momentum toward completion without depending on the need to qualify for financial aid programs, loans or grants.

Making tuition assistance available to all employees is a best practice for creating a strong workforce and economy. Education is the most effective force for creating an upwardly mobile population of consumers who actively participate in the economy and are engaged socially and civically, as part of the community.

The US will be a majority-minority nation in three generations, according to “A Blueprint for Higher Education Equity” Young Invincibles report. Ensuring that employees from all ethnic or economic groups have access to higher education and tuition assistance is beneficial for businesses as well as individuals. For the US to remain globally strong, all citizens need access to education and the support to complete degrees. Christopher Nellum, policy director for Young Invincibles, says that we need solutions and interventions that close the opportunity gaps and help create stability.

Tuition assistance is a solution that can help achieve equal access to higher education and affordability for men and women in the workforce. With improved access and the support of tuition assistance, more non-traditional students and American workers can achieve attainment, resulting in personal growth and economic stability.