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In Focus

May 10, 2017  |  PERMALINK »

ASAP—A Promising Model for HEA Reform

By Lauren Walizer

In our recommendations to reform the federal Higher Education Act (HEA), CLASP has identified specific improvements that would better support today’s low-income, nontraditional students. We advocate for making aid responsive to today’s postsecondary students, transforming education delivery to support student success, and leveraging outcome information to aid in decision making. In the first in a series of briefs on Opportunities for Addressing Postsecondary Student Poverty in the HEA, we examine the potential of the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) model. The ASAP initiative combines free tuition for participating students with a network of student supports—from providing transportation assistance to offering student assistance like counseling and post-completion job placement support. Together, these elements focus college programs on the whole student’s experience and chances of success in college, rather than solely emphasizing either initial enrollment or post-program outcomes, which are too often prioritized in isolation. After success in community colleges in New York and Ohio, the ASAP model will soon expand to other institutions.

ASAP combines several innovative policy ideas, such as free college on a “last dollar” basis (which ensures all students have their tuition and fees paid for after grant aid is credited). Students are required to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the completion of which, on its own, has been shown to increase persistence. The ASAP initiative also encompasses a holistic approach to supporting students by providing free textbooks and subsidizing student transportation costs, investing in more intensive counseling and guidance on course sequencing, and enabling students to take remedial coursework concurrently with credit-bearing classes so they don’t get trapped in remedial education.

Providing both last-dollar tuition and student supports to ASAP participants requires an initial investment greater than what colleges would ordinarily make. But the combination of these student-focused resources has led to increased rates of student persistence, graduation after three years, and subsequent enrollment in four-year institutions. Over time, on a per-student completion basis, the cost per graduate at the City University of New York (CUNY) was 11 percent less than the cost of its current level of services.

The policy brief recommends building student supports further into the HEA, both on its own and in conjunction with a ”college promise” program model that covers the price of college tuition and fees. The brief also encourages efforts to help students with more comprehensive financial supports.

Read the report here>>

Apr 27, 2017  |  PERMALINK »

Report: Integrated Education and Training Strengthens Career Pathways, Prepares Students for Good Jobs

By Judy Mortrude

At the recent COABE 2017 conference, Integrated Education and Training (IET) was in the air. And in the pre-conference, and in the vendor hall, and in multiple breakout sessions! Building on that energy, CLASP has released a summary of IET research and guidance, Integrated Education and Training: A Career Pathways Policy & Practice.  

Earlier this year, CLASP joined leading experts in presenting the results of a national IET survey that is featured in this report. 

This includes data analysis demonstrating clear progress in regional planning for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Nearly 70 percent of adult education providers reported implementing or planning IET in partnership with their local workforce development board.

IET Chart

However, the data also show gaps in collaboration. For instance, just 31 percent of adult educators have ensured their IET program appears on their state’s Eligible Training Provider List, a prerequisite to using WIOA title I training funds.

IET chart

WIOA is in full implementation, but many opportunities for action remain.  As adult educators now sit (by law) at WIOA local planning tables across the country, it’s critical for the adult education field to promote equity and accountability for delivering coordinated services to help low-skilled, low-income adults succeed in the workforce. It’s time to maximize adult learning through IET!

Read the full report here>>

Apr 25, 2017  |  PERMALINK »

College Affordability, State Aid and Adult Students

By Wayne Taliaferro

The eroding purchasing power of federal grant aid, declining state support for institutions, and growing diversity of today’s students have made postsecondary access and success a challenge for many students. Despite some reports of rebounding state fiscal support for higher education, support is still below pre-recession levels in 46 states. The cost burden has created the most rapidly growing student debt levels in history. For students from low-income backgrounds, the pain of this cost burden is felt the hardest. And for low-income adult students, who make up almost half of all adult postsecondary students, the burden is even more troublesome. However, where other resources fall short, state financial aid programs present an opportunity to act as a source for meeting student need.

State financial aid programs provide $11.7 billion in aid annually. In some states, grant aid is extremely generous and inclusive, but these qualities are not reflective in state programs across the board. In some states, this is a result of resource constraints and inn others, the result of narrow understandings of student demographics and needs. Nonetheless, an unintended consequence is usually the exclusion or reduction of state financial aid opportunities for adult students. For example, in Georgia, the HOPE scholarship is unavailable to students once they have been out of high school for seven years. In Michigan, the state’s primary grant programs are only available to students who have graduated from high school within the last 10 years. In California, where Cal Grants are relatively generous, they are only guaranteed to students enrolling in college within a year of high school graduation who meet merit and income requirements, or for students transferring from a community college to a four-year institution before age 28. In addition, in some states, aid opportunities become scarcer depending on program, enrollment pattern or institution type. For students in community and technical colleges, state financial aid may have even lower purchasing power considering the high levels of unmet need and expense burdens among the students that attend.

These challenges are not a condemnation of the programming in these states, nor are they unique examples. In fact, in Georgia adult students are a recognizable priority population within the state, but unfortunately the state’s financial aid policies just have not caught up. Nonetheless, many states are taking steps to fix this disconnect. For instance, in New York, Assembly Bill 970 was introduced to establish an adult student grant for adults returning to college or seeking career education and training. In Idaho, House Bill 190 was introduced to provide funding for an adult postsecondary completion scholarship. And in California, the most comprehensive debt-free college plan was recently put forth by the state’s lawmakers to cover the full cost of attendance, including living expenses, for Californians.

Still, there are a number of accessibility challenges among state financial aid programs that simply impede opportunities for adult students. Considering the plateauing of the high school graduate pipeline, the skill demands of the current and future economy, and state credential attainment and workforce goals, it is in the best interests of states to prioritize postsecondary affordability and access for all residents. As policymakers continue to debate these issues, it is critical that adult students are a serious part of the conversation. 

This post was originally featured on the Ed Note Blog of the Education Commission of the States.   

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