College aid: Research, then reform

Pell Grants will go off a “funding cliff” in 2014. The federal college aid program needs to be reformed — but first research what’s working and what’s not, an analyst argues.

“Swirling” students who transfer multiple times may lose eligibility for Pell Grants under new time limits.

Aid tops tuition for community college students

While the “sticker price” at community colleges is up to $3,130, the average student receives more in grants, tax credits and other aid than tuition, leaving $1,220 for books, transportation and living expenses.

Community colleges are rethinking placement tests and looking for ways to start more students at the college level. About 60 percent of community college students are start in developmental education. Only 25 percent finish a credential in eight years, compared to 40 percent of students who start at the college level.


California CCs: Set a plan, get moving

California community colleges will give enrollment priority to students who set academic or vocational goals. “Professional students” who’ve attended for years without completing a credential will go to the end of the line and may be shut out of classes.

One district already is working to ensure high school graduates will have a place in college classes.

Getting to Graduation: How — and how many?

Getting to Graduation will require state and federal policies that encourage new and established higher ed providers “to compete with one another on the value they deliver to their students,” argues a new book on the completion agenda in higher education. And don’t forget apprenticeships, vocational certificates and associate degrees that qualify graduates for “middle-skill” jobs.

Students talk about the college journey

Community college students talk about barriers to completion, such as dead-end remedial classes, conflicting advice on what courses to take and limited exposure to career options.

The big mo

Momentum is the key to college completion: Slow starters usually don’t finish.  Taking a “gap year” between high school and college can be dangerous, especially for low-income students.

College credits without college classes

As more adults try to earn college degrees, less-selective colleges are giving credits for “prior learning.”

The “completion agenda” – the push to get more students to a college degree — can’t ignore quality, say academics. Does the degree signify real knowledge and skills?

To and through college

To graduate from college, students must work harder in high school and reach out for help in college, advises the co-founder of a college coaching service. Those who need help the most are the least likely to ask for it.

Ssssshhhhh. There’s a new innovation at the college library — a room for quiet study! Nothing that beeps is allowed.

Counting transfers will raise completion rates

Hit for low graduation rates, community colleges will will more than double completion counts by including transfers.

“Tuning” college courses will help students transfer their credits, it’s hoped. First, faculty at different colleges and universities have to agree about what students should learn in specific courses.

Billions for college, but we don’t know grad rates

What’s the college graduation rate? Nobody knows because federal data leaves out or miscounts so many students. It’s time to track individual students’ progress, including transfers, part-timers and second-time-around students, an analyst argues.

Also on Community College Spotlight: A college’s quality isn’t measured by the completion rate.