DOL Aims to Open Next Round of TAAACCT Grants in April

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will tweak its application for Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAAACCT) grants to improve some areas in the program, such as communication among consortia members, according to Jane Oates, the department’s assistant secretary for employment and training.

The $2-billion, four-year TAAACCT program funds community colleges that develop job training partnerships with local employers. The department will begin accepting applications for the third round of the grants at the end of April or early May, Oates said during a virtual address at the American Association of Community CollegesWorkforce Development Institute last week. Grant winners will be announced in September.

There might be two time frames, Oates noted, with applications for consortia given a little more time than those from a single college.

Employer commitments

The department has adjusted requirements for the program with each round. After the first round, DOL realized there was a need for more evaluation, so in round two it required third-party evaluations, Oates said.

“This is crucial as a roadmap when you reinvent yourselves in 10 years,” Oates said.

In the second round of grants, the department learned that the idea of capacity building can vary greatly, so more flexibility will now be allowed.

“We don’t think every project should look exactly the same,” Oates said. Online learning, accelerated learning and more compressed schedules are all acceptable. “Not every community college needs to do the same thing,” she said.

Oates added community outreach and return on investment are important, as well as the need to build bridges between credit and non-credit-bearing programs. What’s most crucial, she said, is the need for “real, rigorous, meaningful partnerships with employers.”

Even though employers can’t guarantee jobs, Oates encouraged colleges to try to secure some type of workplace-related activity for students, such as internships and cooperative learning. (Read more.)

Via Ellie Ashford, The Community College Times.

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Govenor Brown Suggests Ways to Save Community Colleges

Here’s an interesting little tidbit I found in the news today.

Governor Jerry Brown thinks the idea of paying for grades might be just the ticket to saving our community colleges.

The governor has suggested several ways to change community colleges. Restricting how many units a person can earn is one. Another is to pay students for finishing their course work.

Although nothing is final yet, Brown’s idea is to kick back money to students who finish their courses with good grades.

A unit that now costs students $49, could get a $10 rebate or more.

Studies show that the sooner students finish their classes, the better their chance of graduating.

Via KGO-TV/DT.

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New Look for Lumina

The big goal for the Lumina Foundation hasn’t changed, but the powerful foundation has come up with a new set of strategies to boost America’s proportion of college graduates to 60 percent by 2025.

The foundation’s leaders said times have changed in the four years since they assumed their role in helping to push the completion agenda. And they have new ideas about how to spend $300 million over the next four years, with focuses on building a social movement, targeting metropolitan areas and encouraging innovations based on student learning and competencies rather than the credit hour.

Lumina’s emphasis until now has been on college preparation, college success and productivity in higher education, said Jamie P. Merisotis, the foundation’s president. Those three broad areas will be replaced by five specific goals around mobilizing support and collaboration, and three that seek changes to the nation’s higher education system. He hopes the new approach will build urgency.

“There hasn’t been enough progress on the attainment agenda,” he said.

A key shift for the foundation is to a student-centric view, rather than an institutional or issue-based focus. And while Merisotis said Lumina would actually increase what it is spending on grants, the money would be aimed at areas where they feel strongly that they can add value, and they expect to see results.

Targeting metro areas can be promising, in part because workforce needs have brought employers, local governments and community organizations to the table with leaders from higher education. Dewayne Matthews, Lumina’s vice president for policy and strategy, pointed to building momentum in Memphis, Tampa and Los Angeles. (Read more.)

Via Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed.

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Colleges Lose Pricing Power

The demand for four-year college degrees is softening, the result of a perfect storm of economic and demographic forces that is sapping pricing power at a growing number of U.S. colleges and universities, according to a new survey by Moody’s Investors Service. Facing stagnant family income, shaky job prospects for graduates and a smaller pool of high-school graduates, more schools are reining in tuition increases and giving out larger scholarships to attract students, Moody’s concluded in a report set to be released Thursday.

But the strategy is eating into net tuition revenue, which is the revenue that colleges collect from tuition minus scholarships and other aid. College officials said they need to increase net tuition revenue to keep up with rising expenses that include faculty benefits and salaries. But one-third of the 292 schools that responded to Moody’s survey anticipate that net revenue will climb in the current fiscal year by less than inflation.

For the fiscal year, which for most schools ends this June, 18% of 165 private universities and 15% of 127 public universities project a decline in net tuition revenue. That is a sharp rise from the estimated declines among 10% of the 152 private schools and 4% of the 105 public schools in fiscal 2012.

The financial pressures signal that many schools are starting to capitulate to complaints that college has become unaffordable to many American families, observers say. At least two dozen private colleges froze tuition this fall, roughly double the previous year’s total. (Read more. May require paid subscription.)

Via Michael Corkery, Wall Street Journal.

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California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris Lauds Gov. Brown’s Budget Proposal that Increases Funding, Improves Online Education

SACRAMENTO — California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris today praised Gov. Jerry Brown for including in his proposed 2013-14 budget additional funding for community colleges and for his leadership of an initiative to help more students achieve their academic and career goals through improved online education.
“Governor Brown’s leadership in passing Proposition 30 means California community colleges can begin to make room for some of the hundreds of thousands of students who have been shut out of our system due to recent funding cuts,” Harris said. “This budget represents a good start toward financial recovery for our system. The governor and voters deserve credit for beginning this overdue reinvestment.”

The governor’s budget would provide $197 million more to the college system in 2013-14 and directs the California Community Colleges Board of Governors to determine the best way to allocate the money to districts. The funding increase would allow colleges statewide to add back thousands of classes to serve some of the nearly 500,000 students turned away over the past four years during the state’s financial crisis and at the same time continue the system’s work to improve student success. <More.>

Click here to read the entire Press Release.

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