In 2019, NEBHE’s Board of Directors approved four strategic priorities including the following, dedicated to serving adult learners:

Enhance and expand postsecondary opportunities for adult learners through increased access, affordability, and targeted programs to promote successful completion

Because 60% of jobs will require a postsecondary credential by 2025, and over half of New Englanders aged 25 and older currently lack a postsecondary credential, engaging or re-engaging this population in postsecondary education is crucial to building a strong and sustainable workforce and economy.

Adult learners represent roughly one-third of the postsecondary population (in 2017: 34.2% nationwide, 32.6% in New England). They are usually defined as students aged 25 or older, but this group also includes individuals under 25 with responsibilities characteristic of adults. 

  • 64% are employed – 40% work full-time
  • 49% are financially independent
  • 24% have non-spousal dependents
  • Many take a non-traditional educational trajectory – e.g., did not complete high school, delayed entrance into higher education, or “stopped out” of higher education
  • Many have prior job experience and 6% have served in the military


NEBHE’s strategy for increasing access to and completion of postsecondary credentials by New England’s adult learners includes four key elements: grant funded projects, NEBHE’s Guide to Adult Serving Institutions, data and research and additional tools and resources produced by exemplars across the nation. Please explore each of these categories below: