Finding affordable colleges is becoming more and more difficult, and it has become the norm for people to be paying for student loans for many years after graduation.
The cost of higher education is a deep problem in America, with skyrocketing student debts compounded with strained state budgets and ever-rising tuition. Government spending on higher education is also high, making the dream of affordable colleges more of a myth rather than a reality.
But it is possible to make college more affordable without the need to apply for loans and without compromising the quality of education. What needs to be done, however, requires a concerted effort from the colleges and the government.
Ways to Create Affordable Colleges
Make Sure Students Complete their Degrees Quickly
Statistics show that many students ultimately drop out before graduation and only 60% of undergraduates complete their bachelor’s degree within 6 years. This costs the country an enormous amount of money.
Cutting the time spent in college and eliminating the need to pay for more courses and credits are a great solution. The Southern New Hampshire University and BYU-Idaho are proof that such measures can help.
Rethink Teaching and Learning Models
The National Center for Academic Transformation championed a redesign of individual course delivery that resulted in 35% of average savings and improved educational outcomes, including course completion and attendance. If other institutions follow suit, affordable colleges will become the norm.
Give Credit for Outside-the-Classroom Experience
It is a fact that knowledge is earned and learned outside of the classroom. If given credit, it will take less time for adult students to complete their degree. This is especially true for post-secondary students over 25 whose work experiences and skills have a direct impact on their education.
Shave Non-Instructional Costs
Doing so will result in savings of 10-to-20% that can have a higher impact on colleges with non-instructional costs that hit the billion mark. Shrinking the cost of student services, management functions, and the like can mean more affordable higher education. Just think what students can do with a $100-to-$200 million in permanent savings from the $1 billion non-instructional costs.
Use Financial Aid as an Incentive
Tennessee and a few other pioneering states see a promising effect of funding on a college’s institutional performance. That is, schools with access to financial aid show higher graduation rates, more job placements, and other indicators of better institutional performance.
This shows that state and federal governments should consider and pursue incentives intended for programs or institutions that embrace similar changes. Support should also be provided to alternative funding sources that will help individuals pay for their education without drowning in debts.
Affordable colleges may not be common in America but making changes in certain areas could make them a dream come true. With some institutions already taking steps and showing success, colleges and universities in the rest of the country should do the same.
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