Bennet, Hatch Introduce Bill to Improve College Retention and Completion

Supports Development and Evaluation of Innovative Strategies

Washington, D.C. -U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) today introduced legislation to create a new pay-for-success initiative in the Higher Education Act that supports the development of innovative, evidence-based strategies to increase college retention and completion for low-income and first generation students.

"In our 21st century economy, higher education is critical to success - opening doors to good paying jobs and economic prosperity," Bennet said. "We must do more to help students, especially low-income and first generation students, succeed in and complete college. This bill encourages colleges and local partners to think creatively and pursue strategies to increase graduation rates, while also gathering evidence of what works in order to share effective practices across the country."

"Pay for Success initiatives could expand opportunities for millions of students and significantly improve the quality of our schools," Hatch said. "Rather than imposing a one-size-fits-all program, this Pay for Success model will allow schools to choose what works best for them and their students. It's time we stop tying prescriptive rules to federal dollars and start using them to pay for what actually works."

Under the Pay for Student Success Act, colleges and nonprofits - alone or in partnership with businesses, states, or K-12 schools - would develop targeted college completion strategies for students and apply to the Department of Education to participate in a pay-for-success project. Applicants must agree to rigorous evaluation of the outcomes of the proposed strategy. Selected entities would receive federal funding to support 10 percent of the project up front. Once the project and evaluation is complete, they may be able to receive, based on appropriations and the strategy's success, funds to reimburse of up to 75 percent of the cost.

Bennet and Hatch worked together previously to include an innovation fund in the Every Student Succeeds Act, passed last year to replace No Child Left Behind. The innovation fund would help support the development and evaluation of strategies to increase student learning. They also introduced the Innovation for Tomorrow's Workforce Act, which would identify and support innovative activities to improve career and technical education and align workforce skills with labor market needs. Because of their efforts, three pay-for-success provisions were also included in the Every Student Succeeds Acts.