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The Institute for Higher Education Policy launched a three-year initiative Wednesday to help states and colleges increase the number of adults with degrees by targeting those who earned course credits but did not complete college.

The Degrees When Due program will connect administrators and staff at institutions in eight states to strategies and tools they can use to identify former students who dropped out of college. The program is expected to create 500,000 new college graduates.

“When a college student becomes a graduate, she moves closer to realizing her full potential. But when she pauses her studies, even after earning enough credits, and never receives her degree, that potential becomes much harder to realize,” IHEP president Michelle Asha Cooper said in a news release. “Through Degrees When Due we’re helping schools build the capacity to help more low-income students and students of color cross the degree-completion finish line.”

Almost one in five college students falls short of earning a degree or credential, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Colleges in California, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Utah and Washington are participating in the program. The majority are community colleges, but some are four-year institutions.

The Lumina Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation and ECMC Foundation are funding the initiative with $5.8 million.