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Report Recommends Ways to Boost Postsecondary Participation Among Older Adults

Resource type: News

Philanthropy News Digest |

Notwithstanding successful efforts by some colleges and universities to create lifelong learning programs for adults age 55 and older, many institutions remain stuck in outmoded, one-dimensional views of this cohort, a new report from the American Council on Education finds.

Funded by the MetLife Foundation, the report, Mapping New Directions: Higher Education for Older Adults (48 pages, PDF), found that older adults are more likely to attend community colleges than students under the age of 25. Indeed, half of college-going adults age 50 and older attend community colleges. At the same time, more than 40 percent of higher education institutions that responded to a recent ACE survey said they did not identify older adult students for purposes related to outreach, programs and services, or financial aid.

Released as part of ACE’s Reinvesting in the Third Age: Older Adults and Higher Education initiative, the report also offers a number of recommendations for colleges and universities to broaden the participation of older adults, including expanding efforts to help older adults transition to new careers and adapting existing financial aid models such as lifelong learning accounts and lottery-funded scholarships to better meet older adults’ needs.

“With increased longevity and economic instability, older adults are looking for greater mobility across educational, work, and community environments,” said ACE president Molly Corbett Broad. “Now more than ever, lifelong learning plays a critical role in their lives and higher education must find ways to better serve this huge pool of potential learners.”

“New Report Points the Way to Greater Postsecondary Participation Among Older Adults.” American Council on Education Press Release 12/09/08.

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