Calculating Costs and Benefits

New federal requirements have lately been likely to draw groans and complaints from college and university officials who feel deluged by ever-changing rules and regulations. But one change taking effect later this year has found many colleges ready, even eager, to comply.

The requirement that colleges display “net price calculators,” which prospective students can use to estimate how much they will have to pay after federal or institutional grants, has become the rare mandate that many colleges have embraced — and that a small private industry has sprung up to help fulfill.

The calculators are seen as a boon for admissions officers, who want to use them to reach prospective students, and for financial aid advisers, who see them as a starting point; they are even seen as a way to reshape institutional aid and pricing policies by making practices more transparent. (Some admissions experts are more skeptical. See this Views essay from Inside Higher Ed that ran last year.)

Whether they will accomplish any of that, or just become another tool for students already savvy about the admissions and financial aid process, is not yet clear. “We are very much in the early stages here in terms of really understanding how best to use this,” said Peter S. Bryant, a senior vice president with Noel-Levitz, a consulting firm offering its own version of the net price calculator.

Still, with more than a month left before the Oct. 29 deadline, the calculators — often relabeled “financial aid estimators” — are already prominently displayed on websites for many colleges and universities, whose officials say they want to have them ready when this year’s high school juniors and seniors begin their college search as they return to school.

“Generally, colleges are not very enthused when new federal mandates come down,” said David Hawkins, director of public policy and research at the National Association for College Admission Counseling. “I can’t think of another that has had the kind of uptake that this one has.” Read more >>

Via Libby A. Nelson, Inside Higher Ed.

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Posted in Funding, Postsecondary (13-18). Tags: . Comments Off on Calculating Costs and Benefits

How to Break the Cycle of Remedial College Classes

This month, more than half of community college freshmen and at least a third of university students started college already behind. They’re in at least one remedial course that does not count toward a degree, thus beginning at least four months—and sometimes years—delayed in getting the degree they enrolled to earn.

This colossal disappointment is largely avoidable. Students need not toil in remedial courses that cost precious time and money.

How do I know? The proof initially emerged with many students transferring from San Diego’s West Hills High School to their local community college. Like many of their fellow freshmen nationally, a whopping 95 percent of high school graduates from West Hills who received As and Bs in their senior English courses did not “pass” the placement test. Yet when allowed to enroll in college-level courses instead of remedial classes, 86 percent successfully completed college-level English, lost no time in their progress, and stayed on course toward earning a degree.

How could this be? San Diego’s Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District took the courageous step of trusting the work of local high school teachers and higher education faculty over the placement test.

The English Curriculum Alignment Project is an intensive and groundbreaking effort. High school teachers and college faculty teamed up to pore over years of transcript information for what is now, statewide, a 30-million student database made available through the California Partnership for Achieving Student Success. Looking at student performance over time, San Diego educators learned that students who stopped taking English courses after 10th grade needed the same level of remediation in community college as students who took advanced English courses through 12th grade.  Read more.

Via Brad Phillips, GOOD Education.

Posted in Community College (13-14). Tags: . Comments Off on How to Break the Cycle of Remedial College Classes