Lower-income, first-generation and underrepresented students tend to have lower grades and more withdrawals and incompletes in gateway courses designed as a foundation for a major or department, writes Beth McMurtrie. Higher education has an obligation to address the problem because it is essentially a social-justice issue, says Gardner Institute CEO John Gardner.
The campus dining department at Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan reduced prices at two campus cafes to improve affordability for students. Food insecurity is an ongoing issue at the school, with 87 students using a Student Center food pantry last year and 78 using it so far this academic year.
Georgetown College in Kentucky plans to pay for the free tuition being offered to students from four counties through an expected boost in enrollment and increased fundraising efforts, says vice president of enrollment management Jonathan Sands. Rice University in Texas and Maine's Colby College are also experimenting with free tuition and scholarships to draw in students from middle-income families.
Over the course of the next 10 years, shifts in education will include a 20% drop in degree costs, increased collaboration and mergers between institutions and the creation of postgraduate microcredentials, predicts John Katzman, founder and CEO of Noodle Partners. A greater emphasis on student needs will bring about a shift away from reduced-faculty and no-faculty teaching models, spark the creation of of bridge organizations for remediation and see institutions emphasizes the average tuition cost students actually pay, he writes.
A new College Board report underscores the value of a four-year degree, challenging public perception that a degree may not be a worthwhile investment. The report found bachelor's-degree recipients had estimated median lifetime earnings of more than $1.2 million at age 64, compared with a little more than $800,000 for those with only a high-school diploma.
Recent postgraduate earnings and debt data released by the Department of Education points to two looming problems facing higher education, writes Andrew Gillen, a senior policy analyst at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Institutions will have to show accountability for student outcomes to receive government funding that has previously been granted regardless of outcomes, and data will aid students in choosing less-risky colleges and academic programs, Gillen writes.
Some Democratic presidential nominees are proposing free four-year college, but there are many factors to consider to make such an initiative successful, says Megan Schneider of the National Association of College and University Business Officers. Considerations include financial strain on public universities as more students enroll, and extensive restrictions meaning that few are qualified for free-tuition scholarship programs.
The transfer agreement between Pennsylvania's community college system and Southern New Hampshire University may signal a sea change, writes Goldie Blumenstyk. While Pennsylvania has other viable public options for transfer, SNHU offered more transfer credits and windows for enrollment and was "willing to think outside the box," said Elizabeth Bolden, president of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges.
The S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications is receiving a $75 million pledge from the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation. The donation would be largest the communications school, founded by Newhouse in 1962, has ever received.
Earlier this week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., described a plan that would allow her, if elected as president, to eliminate some or all of borrowers' federal student loan debt based on their annual income. The plan also entails waiving tuition for public colleges, expanding funding for Pell Grants and historically black universities, and calling for an investigation by the Office of Civil Rights on the racial disparities extant in the student loans.
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