Free college for sophomores?

Maine students should pay no tuition in their sophomore year at a University of Maine campus, proposes Rep. Mike Michaud, a Democratic candidate for governor.  “One-third of first-year students don’t continue on to their sophomore year,” the “Sophomore Year Free” plan states. “Affordability is a major obstacle” to completion.

Michaud also proposes giving the state’s community colleges an extra $1 million to add summer classes.

“Sophomore Year Free” encourages persistence, writes Matt Reed in Inside Higher Ed. “Because it holds off the reward until the second year, it pre-screens for folks who aren’t serious or capable.”

At the community college level, it would be hard to define “sophomore year.” What about part-timers, transfers and students who started out in developmental courses? “Free” would leave a lot of federal financial aid on the table.

Still, using pricing to reward desired student behavior is “worth exploring,” writes Reed.

DeVry, a for-profit, used “plateau pricing” when Reed worked there. Students paid for the first 12 credits in a semester; the next four credits were free. That encouraged them to take more credits and finish on time.

Another option is a refundable “graduation deposit” paid on enrollment. Students would get the money back only if they earned a credential. It would be a financial hardship for students, writes Reed.

If it forced students to think about their commitment to completion, it might cut enrollment drastically.

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON February 27, 2014

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[…] Sophomore year would be free at University of Maine campuses under a plan proposed by a Democratic candidate for governor. One third of first-year students don’t make it to their second year. […]

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