Crossing the Finish Line

The UNC System Student Success Innovation Lab (SSIL) is committed to helping more students, from more diverse backgrounds, to and through college in less time. SSIL supports promising initiatives and funds research at our institutions. By rigorously evaluating those projects, the SSIL identifies what works best and scales successful projects to replicate progress throughout the UNC System. SSIL ensures that students have the support they need to make it across the finish line. 


The UNC System Student Success Innovation Lab funds and evaluates promising strategies that can improve student success.

The lab leverages the power of the System platform to research and develop strategies with proven capacity to increase completion rates. The project links two key assets from across the UNC System: student success initiatives developed and implemented at the institution level and faculty expertise in the evaluation of education programs. Specifically, the SSIL will:

  • Fund evidence-based, cost-effective interventions that demonstrate significant potential to have a measurable impact on student retention, progress, and degree completion;
  • Evaluate the effectiveness and rigorously assess the cost-effectiveness of funded projects, using third-party researchers from within the UNC System;
  • Share the results across the System and the higher education sector, accumulating evidence that can make the case for taking successful strategies to greater scale.

By supporting cost-effective solutions to student success, the Student Success Innovation Lab will help the UNC System maximize the return on taxpayer dollars. The Lab will also increase collaboration and communication across our institutions as they work together to help more students graduate in a timely fashion.

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Areas of Focus

Funding will be designed to support innovative strategies that will enhance students’ abilities to complete required coursework successfully, navigate their chosen degree path efficiently, and graduate on-time. Funding will finance projects in three broad areas: innovation in teaching learning; student advising and support; and financial aid.

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Innovation in Teaching Learning:

Harness new approaches to instruction to improve student learning in key courses.

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Student Advising and Support:

Develop and test integrated approaches to services and supports that keep students on track to degree completion.

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Financial Aid:

Reduce financial barriers that may hinder completion, and create incentives for students to accumulate credits and complete in a timely fashion.

The SSIL represents more than an opportunity for the UNC System to measure the effectiveness of interventions. It is also a platform that allows our institutions to experiment with new ideas, build on existing work, and scale up successful strategies.


The UNC System Office has received over $3.8 million in total funding from the ECMC Foundation, the John M. Belk Endowment, Arnold Ventures and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation to provide funding to institutions to implement student success projects.


For questions or additional information contact Shun Robertson via email.

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