What We Do

Our vision is a U.S. higher education system that propels social mobility and economic development. We believe that you cannot achieve economic empowerment without academic achievement. That’s why the goal of the Postsecondary Success team is to ensure that students complete a postsecondary program that helps them support themselves, engage in their communities, and achieve their dreams.

Despite its deserved reputation as the great equalizer, the bridge to a better life that is higher education remains too narrow, too hard to navigate, and carries a toll too high for many Americans. The result? Too few are able to take advantage of the powerful opportunity on the other side. This is especially true for students from low-income backgrounds, those who are the first in their family to go to college, and students of color. Today, only one in 10 of young adults from the lowest income quartile will complete a certificate or degree by age 24.


Unless we dramatically improve student success in higher education, our nation will suffer from a shortage of skilled workers needed to ensure global competitiveness and national security. We are currently on track to produce at least 11 million fewer career-relevant certificates and degrees than our economy will require by 2025.

We work with partners to transform higher education models for colleges and universities so that more students – especially low-income and first-generation students – graduate at higher rates, with high-quality degrees or certificates at an affordable price.

Find out how we work with partners to solve some of today’s toughest problems in higher education by exploring the Grantees, How We Work, and Areas of Focus sections of our website, viewing the Postsecondary Success Strategy Overview One-pager, and watching the video below.

Our Team

Led by Dr. Daniel Greenstein, the Postsecondary Success team brings a wealth and diversity of educational experiences, relevant practical skills and understandings, and problem-solving expertise to the challenges facing higher education. Every one of our talented staff is dedicated to removing barriers to postsecondary access and completion for all students.

How To Join

Generally, we invite proposals by contacting organizations directly. However, we do occasionally award grants through published Requests for Proposals (RFPs) or letters of inquiry. Please visit How We Work to learn more about our grant making process. For information on jobs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, please visit our careers page at Working at the Foundation.


Low-Income Students Need More Than Just a College Degree, Report Says

August 8, 2016

Getting low-income students into and through college isn’t enough to position them well for success
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What You Need to Know About FAFSA Changes

The date for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid – commonly known as the
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Two Reports Show Untapped Potential of Competency-Based Education

August 1, 2016

More than 500 colleges and universities are offering competency-based education (CBE) programs, which measure students’
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Collaboration, Not Competition

Colleges in the same region often view each other as competitors, whether on the athletics
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Interstate Passport Gives College Students the Means to Navigate Transfer Requirements

Within a state, there may be clarity about transfer requirements and what classes and credits
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Consumers get more information about a purchase they once made on trust: college

Pssst! You wanna buy a college education? Of course you do! People with college degrees
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Consumers get more information about college

July 28, 2016

Even as a higher education becomes among the biggest investments Americans make, the information available
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Emergency Aid Keeps Students on Path to Graduation

July 6, 2016

Although students and their families plan for the cost of tuition, fees, housing, and textbooks,
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The Typical College Student Is Not Who You Think It Is

July 5, 2016

Who are today’s college students? The answer surprises most people who attended four year universities.
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‘Passport’ for Transfer

Professors and academic leaders from seven western states have rolled out an “interstate passport” to
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