A consortium of eight northeast Ohio colleges and universities have agreed to work together to re-enroll students with past due balances. The institutions include Kent State University, Stark State University, Cleveland State University, Youngstown State University, the University of Akron. It also includes Lakeland Community College, Lorain Community College, and Cuyahoga Community College. The eight have agreed to re-enroll students with past-due balances and/or release student transcripts to other members.
Members have not decided whether they will absorb the debts or have students repay them at a lower interest rate. The program, which will launch in the Fall 2022 semester, offers a way for students with some credit but no degree to re-engage with either their original institution or one of the other seven schools.
According to ThinkImpact, a research firm specializing in educational data, debt is the primary reason more than half of students leave school early. Among those who delay their graduation, 8 of 10 do so for financial reasons.
More states are looking for ways to re-enroll students who have begun a college degree but did not finish it. Currently, more than 1M Michigan residents have insufficient college credits to obtain a degree. Additionally, Michigan has a post-secondary attainment rate that is lower than the national average. The state now funds multiple programs that will enable adult students to earn (or finish) a two-year degree at no (or minimal) cost.
Strategies to re-enroll students have growing importance
Strategies to re-enroll students will become more important to community colleges, which are uniquely qualified to welcome returning students, non-traditional students and students who have been out of the classroom for years. In addition, community colleges can also serve the educational needs of adults who left high school without graduating.
Chronic declines in enrollment may force community colleges to look for additional opportunities to re-enroll students who left school early. The so-called enrollment cliff may also force community colleges to engage more marginalized populations. This may include women re-entering the workforce and students who speak English as a second language. It may also include reaching out to inmates and other non-traditional students.
There is no shortage of people who want to return to school. But colleges and universities must do a better job of managing barriers that keep students out of the classroom. Minimizing or eliminating student debt is one good way to re-enroll students with some college but no degree.
Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey , via Flickr