In collaboration with the Kentucky Council for Postsecondary Education (CPE), Ithaka S+R is providing research and consulting to identify barriers to re-enrolling adult learners who have stopped out and assess intervention opportunities to improve adult learner re-enrollment in Kentucky. This project builds on Ithaka S+R’s prior research, implementation, and evaluation efforts to address stranded credits—credits that students have earned but cannot access because of administrative holds placed by the college or university they previously attended as collateral for an unpaid balance to the institution. This new technical assistance work in Kentucky is made possible through the generous financial support of Lumina Foundation and The Kresge Foundation.

With over 6.6 million individuals nationally burdened by stranded credits, there is great potential to expand adult learner re-engagement efforts. Our previous analysis estimates that over 90,000 individuals in Kentucky have stranded credits. As colleges and universities in Kentucky and across the country grapple with implementing the Education Department’s new policies limiting transcript withholding by July 1, 2024, institutions must re-evaluate their existing practices around administrative holds and past due balances.

Throughout 2024, we will work with Kentucky CPE to accomplish four goals:

  1. Identify and assess data on administrative holds and past due balances to better understand stranded credits-related challenges in the state.
  2. Explore policy and practice opportunities to improve both support to adult learners with some credit, no credential and re-enrollments at colleges and universities.
  3. Assess the readiness of Kentucky institutions to implement programs or collaborative solutions for stopped-out students.
  4. Host a convening with current and prospective collaborators to present findings and facilitate discussions on next steps in addressing stranded credits.

Using aggregated administrative data and interviews with a wide variety of stakeholders, we hope to better understand the current state of administrative holds and past due balances. We look forward to working with stakeholders to identify innovative solutions that minimize barriers to re-enrolling adult learners. This knowledge will inform opportunities for implementation in the future, from making small changes in practice at the departmental or institutional level, to considering larger interventions to better support adult learners with some college, no credential.

By better understanding current policies and practices in Kentucky, we can identify solutions that will benefit students, institutions, and the regional economy. This technical assistance project aligns with Ithaka S+R’s goals of improving student access and success through expanding educational opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds, and improving student learning outcomes, graduation rates, and time to degree.

If you would like to work with Ithaka S+R to support students and higher education institutions by removing barriers to re-enrollment, please contact Liz Looker, senior program manager, at We have additional funding available to collaborate with state agencies and postsecondary systems on program implementation and technical assistance opportunities.