In America, the cost of college is becoming a major issue. The expense is causing student debt to skyrocket. It’s also preventing less affluent people from getting their degrees. Estimates show that when the amount that governments spend on higher education is combined with what people generally pay for tuition, the total cost comes to approximately $110,000 for every bachelor’s degree earned. Here are five ways that colleges are trying to make getting an education more financially accessible.
Embracing New Teaching Methods
A number of schools are discovering that they can lower costs and improve educational outcomes with a few instruction modifications. These schools have redesigned courses that include technological advancements. For instance, they offer online practice tests and tutorials, which allow students to work more at their pace. The enhanced courses also provide automated feedback and assessments. This increases the interaction that instructors have with their students. Schools that have embraced new teaching methods are seeing improvements in grades and attendance. Also, more students are completing courses that offer this type of instruction.
Graduating Students Faster
The easiest way to make college more affordable is to ensure that students are earning their degrees and that they are getting them quickly. Today, the United States spends far too much money educating people who wind up leaving school before acquiring their degrees. The National Center for Education Statistics confirms that just 60 percent of American students who are enrolled in a bachelor’s program leave school with their degree. In addition, it takes those who do earn a degree an average of six years to get it. Too often, students are completing more courses and earning more credits than they need for their degrees. To save money, some schools are helping students plan an efficient path to graduation.
Decreasing Overhead for Non-Instructional Operations
Over time, non-instructional costs tend to creep up. To avoid overspending in this category, many schools are completing internal audits to control costs. Reports show that when colleges take this step, they save from 10 to 20 percent, which can be an enormous amount. For instance, a major public educational facility that spends $1 billion in these types of costs can save from $100 to $200 million permanently. Technology makes it easier to introduce slimmed down processes and shared services. Schools are discovering that they can save in the areas of management, academic support and student services.
Tying Government Funding to Performance
Currently, many colleges receive state funding according to the number of enrolled students that they have. Some states are changing this by tying the funds that they provide for higher education to how well a school is performing. To make this type of determination, states are checking graduation and job placement rates. Schools are also considering the time that it takes students to earn their degrees. To encourage schools to participate, states must put up enough funds to incentivize them. While educational institutions are hesitant about these conditions, government officials should continue to encourage educational facilities to perform for the benefit of their students.
Credit for Knowledge Obtained Outside the Classroom
Colleges are trying to decrease costs by researching ways to give adult students credit for the skills that they’ve acquired outside of school. By offering this, colleges can decrease the time that these learners spend in school. More than 40 percent of post-secondary college attendees are older than 25. Frequently, their work experience readies them with skills that relate directly to their coursework. If colleges start recognizing these skills, they can shorten the time that it takes an adult learner to graduate with a bachelor’s degree by about 10 months, making college more affordable.
While access to higher education is not yet a legal right, it is one of America’s deep-seated values. Because of this, educational facilities are beginning to embrace the kind of change that will make a difference to the country’s current and future college students. With a few process and goal changes, colleges can make obtaining a degree more affordable.