Compete LA Doubles Down on Effort to Help Thousands of Louisiana Adults Re-Enroll In and Finish College

The University of Louisiana System rolls out new re-entry academy with flexible, online courses to reach students with some college but no degree

BATON ROUGE, LA. (SEPTEMBER 9, 2020) – Compete Louisiana (Compete LA), a statewide college completion initiative powered by the University of Louisiana System, is announcing the launch of Compete LA Academy, an ambitious new program designed to help adults who have stopped out of university return and earn their degree. The Academy is made possible through a collaboration with StraighterLine, which partners with colleges to provide affordable competency-based college readiness and re-entry programs.

“At a time when Louisianians are facing economic hardship and uncertainty about the future, our nine member institutions are playing a powerful role in helping develop the skills and credentials that employers will be looking for as the economy rebounds,” Dr. Jim Henderson, president and CEO of the University of Louisiana System, said. “Compete LA Academy is an additional way for us to provide a bridge back to our universities and help adults progress toward finishing the degree they need to succeed in Louisiana’s growing industries.”

In Louisiana, one in five adults—653,000 citizens—have some college credit but no degree. According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, nearly all of the 7.2 million net jobs lost during the Great Recession were occupied by workers with less than a bachelor’s degree, while only 3.2 million of the 11.5 million jobs added during the recovery went to individuals with that education level.

First launched in 2019, Compete LA is part of the University of Louisiana System’s ambitious goal of producing 150,000 new college graduates statewide by 2025. Through the new online Academy, returning students will have access to approved, competency-based courses to earn credits toward a degree. The flexible learning model allows students to restart their academic journey at any time. Compete LA provides a team of dedicated coaches who engage directly with students who have existing academic credit but stopped short of a degree—many of them working adults ages 25-44. Students receive counseling personalized to their past educational experiences and recommendations for accessing financial aid and transferring existing credit to one of the System’s member institutions.

The public universities participating in the initiative include Grambling State University, Louisiana Tech, McNeese State University, Nicholls State University, Northwestern State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, University of Louisiana Monroe, and the University of New Orleans.

“We know that a degree can build economic resilience and give people a leg up in the search for higher-wage work. But too often there aren’t easy on-ramps for busy, working adults looking to re-enter higher education,” said Burck Smith, CEO and founder of StraighterLine. “This partnership is about meeting the needs of today’s learners by providing them with a viable path to completion—and increased economic opportunity.”

Tuition for Compete LA Academy is $150 per month and is delivered through the StraighterLine platform, which has demonstrated increased student persistence and success rates. In addition to convenient access to online courses, the tuition includes e-textbooks, online tutoring, access to coaching, and other support services seven days a week.

Enrollment in Compete LA Academy is now open. Students interested in learning more about re-enrolling in college through Compete LA initiative can visit


About the Universities of Louisiana and Compete LA: The Universities of Louisiana, one of the nation’s largest higher education systems, is a family of nine distinctive educational institutions serving more than 91,500 students and awarding more than 16,500 degrees annually. Compete LA is a program designed to help Louisianans with some college credit complete their degree.

About StraighterLine: StraighterLine is a student success company and the category creator for providing scalable solutions to deliver affordable, effective and accelerated learning pathways to formal degree programs and widely recognized industry credentials. The StraighterLine platform supports over 35,000 new students a year through the website and the company’s growing network of university and employer relationships.