William Paterson University has been awarded a $150,000 grant from the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education to reengage adults who have some credits but no degree and encourage them to re-enroll and complete their bachelor’s degree.

The grant project, titled WP Accelerate, will support access to credit for prior learning for the “Some College, No Degree” population and build more capacity to address institutional barriers for returning adult learners.

At William Paterson, the Center for Degree Completion and Adult Learning supports such students in their reentry to formal education and collaborates with them on securing credit for prior learning through testing, portfolio assessment of related work experience and/or credit equivalency options for professional training and credentials.

“The challenges these returning students face as working adults necessitate additional support for peer connections distinct from traditional-age populations, opportunities to prepare for career advancement and support for leveraging credit for prior learning to accelerate their degree completion,” Kara Rabbitt, associate provost for academic initiatives, said. “The WP Accelerate project will allow William Paterson University to expand key supports aligned with evidence-based research for best outcomes and to build the systems needed to assure long-term persistence and success for returning students.”

William Paterson’s efforts will be particularly focused on the needs of adult learners who have had to pause their educational journeys for family, financial or employment reasons. The WP Accelerate project will support working adults to overcome barriers to degree completion by expanding emergency, peer and after-hours services for returning adult learners and reducing financial barriers to their re-enrollment and persistence.

As part of the project, William Paterson will provide wrap-around support for the adult learner population through an innovative “Peer Career Learning” cohort experience, building peer networking connections and career readiness and providing opportunities to earn credit for prior learning.

The WP Accelerate project builds upon initiatives William Paterson has already launched for adult learners, including the establishment of the Center for Degree Completion and Adult Learning, which provides onboarding for returning adult learners, credit for prior learning support and targeted programming. It will also expand ongoing training of faculty and staff regarding credit for prior learning and the needs of adult learners.