Nearly half of all college students in America end up dropping out, an epidemic quit rate that’s poised to cause some serious economic trouble: Most jobs today require some form of higher education, leaving a gap of 3 million qualified candidates by 2018 that spikes to 16 million by 2025.

This achievement gap already costs the U.S. as much as $2.3 trillion annually in lost gross domestic product because less-than-qualified U.S. workers end up underperforming. At the same time, for those struggling to get ahead, a diploma also represents one of the surest ways to ensure upward mobility. People without a college education are three times more likely to live in poverty.

“It seems like a bunch of institutions are kind of tinkering in silos, repeating the same experiments [to fix things] over and over and in many cases making the same mistakes,” says Bridget Burns

More broadly, however, she hopes that UIA’s investment encourages other schools to act similarly. “This signaled where they should be focusing their attention,” she says. “These are many of the most innovative universities, who are saying, ‘These are things that are worth your limited time energy and money.'”

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