Time, not tuition, is the enemy of college completion, writes Stan Jones, president of Complete College America, in a Washington Postop-ed. President Obama’s campaign to limit tuition increases misses the real challenge, which is getting students to graduation, Jones argues.
Today, most college students commute to campus while juggling part-time classes, jobs and often family obligations.
The longer it takes to graduate, the more life gets in the way and the less likely that one will ever graduate. More time on campus also means that more is spent on college, adding high costs as another driver of dropouts. In this instance, time is money.
Less than half of U.S. college students complete a degree, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Because cutting time cuts costs, the president can achieve the savings he seeks for students and taxpayers by linking federal investments to college results and targeting the greatest obstacles to graduation: failed remediation programs that waste time and money; broken policies that make it hard for students to transfer credits; students roaming the curriculum excessively instead of following structured, career-focused programs; creeping credit requirements; and schedules designed more to please faculty than to help working students.
States aren’t waiting for federal leadership, Jones adds. Thirty governors have pledged to set graduation goals and develop student success plans. That includes “paying colleges for the students they graduate, not simply for those they enroll.”