This past Monday, President Obama held a roundtable to discuss the college affordability crisis. Attendees included Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and a dozen leaders in higher education from college presidents, to nonprofit heads. The list of attendees is noteworthy, because everyone in attendance has already made strides in making a college degree affordable and attainable for students.
For example, Dr. Robert Mendenhall, President of Western Governor’s University, was one of the presidents in attendance and has helped develop a tuition model unlike most others. Instead of charging tuition per credit, WGU charges a flat rate tuition for a six-month period. Here’s how WGU describes their tuition and costs:
“WGU treats all students as “full-time” and charges tuition at a flat rate regardless of the number of competency units (credit equivalents) attempted or completed by the student. The “standard term” is based upon a full-time enrollment of at least 12 competency units for undergraduate (bachelor’s) students and 8 competency units for graduate (master’s) students. Students who complete more or fewer units are charged the same tuition rates”
The discussion touched on not only lowering costs for students, but increasing graduation rates, school productivity and innovation within the higher education sector. Part of this discussion also included determining the right role for the government in terms of funding. Roundtable attendee and President of Ivy Tech Community College Thomas J. Snyder said that he “suspect[s] some pretty substantial proposals will evolve in the next few months“.
While it’s still too early to tell what these proposals may entail, the meeting seems to have been a significant step forward in the development of a higher education strategy that is both affordable, and achievable.
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