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Short Title

Leveraging Guided Pathways

Abstract

To address low completion rates, postsecondary leaders are championing a “guided pathways” approach that puts students on a prescribed route towards graduation. Designing solutions to address low completion rates is complex; in addition to academic roadblocks, insufficient financial resources coupled with a complicated financial aid system can intensify barriers to completion, especially for students whose continued enrollment is highly dependent on financial aid. Without a comprehensive approach that specifically addresses financial aid funding shortages, students will continue to struggle to complete their programs of study. Opportunities exist to redesign the financial aid system so that the current guided pathways movement more holistically addresses the barriers to completion. This paper presents an overview of the guided pathways approach, addresses financial aid policy barriers to enrollment and program completion, and highlights recommendations for strengthening the guided pathways approach, such as forging partnerships with employers to provide training to students while in college, offering Federal Pell-eligible students the opportunity to pay a discounted rate of tuition, and investing in student peer debt advisors.

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