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Look Ahead

3 Things to Watch in Higher Education, Contraceptives, and Evidence-Based Policy in 2023

These program teams are working on initiatives and reform to maximize opportunity for students, patients, voters, and more.

While Arnold Ventures has a significant focus on the Criminal Justice and Health Care portfolios, the organization also looks for other ways it can maximize opportunity and minimize injustice. There are many areas where federal and state-level programs can better serve individuals. Here’s a preview of what’s to come in higher education, contraceptive choice and access, and evidence-based policy.

#1 The FDA is on track to approve the Pill for over-the-counter use

Women opening birth control packet
(nensuria/​Getty Images)

It’s a laborious process for most drugs to make their way through the FDA to apply for over-the-counter approval. The company HRA Pharma applied for approval for Opill, its progestin-only version of oral hormonal contraception, this past summer. While the hearing scheduled for November was postponed, experts say the Pill is still on track for approval in mid-to-late 2023. It will be a game-changer for contraceptive access, although questions of cost, coverage, and age minimums remain.

Related: Removing the Prescription Barrier

#2 The U.S. Department of Education forges ahead with much-needed regulations

higher education graduates
(Getty Images)

Negotiated rulemaking, a complex process at the U.S. Department of Education, began in 2021, and its most recent set of rules are approaching finalization in 2023. Keep an eye out for the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the Gainful Employment rule and several other accountability measures in April 2023. With higher education in the spotlight throughout 2022 due to both targeted and widespread student loan cancellation, advocates and policymakers continue to examine how the system could be made better for all.


A Basic Promise for Students and Veterans
Three Key Regulations Among the Education Department’s New Trove
The Next Steps Toward Higher Education Reform
Higher Ed’s Last Call on Federal Funding Regulations

#3 Continued attention on higher education and workforce training evaluations

higher education students
(Getty Images)

As we find ourselves three years from the start of the pandemic, the research and policy communities continue to closely examine how to best support students as they arrive at schools and programs, make their way through, graduate, and enter the work force. Expect to see a deeper file of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) publishing reports on student success, be they replications or new evaluations, and workforce training evaluations that will help states figure out how to continue to best spend their American Rescue Plan dollars. These include RCTs of:

  • Providing students with federal loan eligibility information
  • College Forward, a program that provides individualized coaching to help low-income students get into and graduate from college
  • tnAchieves, an intensive coaching program for low-income community college students
  • Bridges to Success, a mentoring program to help low-income people get jobs and achieve financial stability