Nearly 490 four year public colleges and universities – including Fresno State – have pledged to boost college completion by 3.8 million students to help the nation reach the goal of 60 percent of adults possessing a college degree by 2025.

Through Project Degree Completion: A Public University Initiative, the institutions will increase the number of college degrees they award from an estimated 14.6 million to 18.4 million over the next 14 years. Collectively, public colleges and universities currently award just over 1 million degrees annually.

The participating institutions are members of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU), representing nearly all the four-year public colleges and universities in the United States.

Fresno State President John D. Welty, who addressed a national press teleconference Tuesday, Oct. 2, said the project provides support for an effort begun in 2008-09 – and already bearing fruit – to improve the graduation rate at the university and the entire California State University system.

Welty said Project Degree Completion efforts will be “extremely important” for the California State University system. “We serve an increasingly larger number of underrepresented students and those students are going to be critical for the future workforce of the state of California,” he said.

Part of the Project Degree Completion strategy for is to make a concerted effort to reach out to former students who have attended APLU and ASSCU institutions but who have not earned a baccalaureate degree from any institution.

Welty said that outreach aligns with the upcoming Cal State Online program, an effort he is heading that launches in January.

“One of the major thrusts of Cal State Online will be to reach out to students who have previously been enrolled in one of our California State University campuses but have not finished,” he said.

To read the full APLU-AASCU press release, click here.