Posts Tagged ‘Free College Tuition’

Free College: Looking Ahead

Monday, October 15th, 2018

Advance CTE wrote a series of blog posts profiling the policies and practices of free college in the United States. This post will explore the future landscape of community college. Check out previous blogs on the history of free college, Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars Program and challenges and limitations to free college programs.

As of September 2018, there are over 350 local and state college promise programs across the country. Though the source of funding for free college varies , the goal of increasing access despite the growing cost of college is the commonality. So far, the 2018 election cycle has seen a number of candidates include some form of free college in their platform. Overall, ten Democratic gubernatorial candidates are promoting free college in their campaign. For example, Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous is advocating for free community college and debt free four-year college, Arizona gubernatorial candidate David Garcia is supporting a proposal to make four-year public colleges free and Connecticut gubernatorial Ned Lamont is proposing making the first two years free at any state public college.

At the federal level, various members of Congress have introduced legislation that promotes free college. Perhaps most well known is Senator Bernie Sanders’ (VT-I) “College for All,” proposed in the spring of 2017, that promotes measures such as making all public colleges free for learners with a household income of up to $125,000 and having all community colleges be tuition free. In the spring of 2018 Senator Brian Schatz (HI-D) introduced the “Debt Free College Act” that proposes measures to make college debt free with a focus on the total fees associated with college (such as textbooks, food and housing) instead of only tuition.

The Institute for Higher Education explored the concept of free college, and came up with five ways to fix current programs and build “equity-driven federal and state free-college programs:”

  1. Invest first and foremost in low-income students;
  2. Fund non-tuition expenses for low-income students;
  3. Include four-year colleges in free college programs;
  4. Support existing state need-based grant programs; and
  5. Avoid restrictive or punitive participation requirements, such as post-college residency requirements

 

Additionally, the Education Trust evaluated free college programs through an equity lens, and developed equity driven guidelines to rate and improve current state tuition-free college programs or proposals. They built an eight-step evaluation to use when assessing free college program quality:

  1. Whether the programs cover living expenses;
  2. Whether they cover fees;
  3. Whether they cover the total cost of tuition for at least four years of college;
  4. Whether they include bachelor’s-degree programs;
  5. Whether adult students are eligible;
  6. Whether repayment of aid is required under certain circumstances;
  7. Whether there are GPA requirements; and
  8. Whether there are additional requirements to maintain eligibility

 

Although there is a growing national focus on free college, and even more state-level attention on this issue, a uniform agreement on what this should look like is lacking. There is no general consensus on what free college should look like and the scope of what “free” would truly mean. However, the overarching common goal of making college affordable and accessible will keep the conversation around free college moving forward.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

By Meredith Hills in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Free College: Limitations and Challenges

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

Advance CTE is writing a series of blog posts profiling the policies and practices of free college in the United States. This post will explore some of the challenges inherent in free college programs. Check out previous blogs on the history of free college and Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars Program, and look back next week for a blog on the future of free college.

Free college programs have become a popular idea to combat the rising cost of higher education and increase postsecondary attainment for all. However, a variety of different types of initiatives are branded as “free college,” when in reality that term can be misleading for what is actually provided. For example, state-led free college programs are typically “last dollar in.” This means that first grant aid, such as Pell grants, is given to learners and the state will pay for the remaining tuition. Although this is a significant contribution, this “last dollar” practice means that students are using only grant money for tuition instead of putting it towards additional costs of college such as housing, food, textbooks and any other fees. Most of the states that offer free college programs do so through this approach. Additionally, these free college initiatives are often directed toward students who recently graduated high school leaving non-traditional students with large financial barriers.

Free college is really addressed at the state level, instead of the federal level, which means there are inherent limitations. There are considerable constraints on the amount of money states are able to put toward free college programs. In order to keep the state costs low, limits are put on who is eligible and how exactly the money can be applied to the college. For example, states may only open free college programs to recent high school graduates and allow the money to be applied to community colleges, certain areas of study or include the stipulation that participants have to live and work in that state for a number of years.

Overall, state funding to higher education is shrinking. When states are forced to cut portions of their budget, higher education is typically one of the first areas to feel the impact. What’s more, Most of the state tuition-free programs are discretionary, so the allocated amount can change every year.  

Although the free college movement can improve access, because of the many limitations to what free college can actually mean, access is limited for low-income students. The Education Trust’s, “A Promise Fulfilled,” looked at 15 current and 16 proposed state free college programs, and found that unless they are specifically designed to address the needs of low-income students, they do not benefit these learners.

It is clear that although the notion of free college is a positive one, in practice such programs do not always increase opportunities for higher education for everyone. These programs do have potential for more equitable access to postsecondary education if they are created with intentionality. However, if the cost of college continues to go up, increased and equitable postsecondary attainment will persistently be a challenge.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

By Meredith Hills in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Free College: Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars Program

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

Advance CTE will be writing a series of blog posts profiling the policies and practices of free college in the United States. This post will explore one example of a free college program. Check out last week’s blog on the history of free college, and look for future blogs on the challenges and future of free college.

The idea of free college has gained traction in a number of states. Indiana has been at the forefront of this movement, and has had some form of free college for the past 30 years. Currently, Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars program allows participants up to four years of free enrollment at a two or four-year institution. This covers the cost of tuition and any additional fees. Indiana is unique in including four-year colleges in this program, since fewer than half of states with free college initiatives include four-year institutions in their policies. 

This program covers tuition on a “first dollar” basis, meaning that students remain eligible for other forms of aid to go toward non-tuition expenses. Any additional aid learners might receive from the state is not impacted by grants received to cover non-tuition charges.  

Learners can become involved in this program as early as seventh grade. Students who qualify for free or reduced lunch in seventh or eighth grade are eligible to apply to be part of 21st Century Scholars. Below are 12 requirements that participating students must meet throughout high school in order to qualify:

In 2017, the program granted over $160 million in financial aid. As of the fall of 2018, there were about 80,000 program participants throughout middle and high school and 20,000 in college. This program has bipartisan support in the state.  

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

By Meredith Hills in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Election 2016: From Governor’s Mansions to the Senate, the Democratic Ticket Boasts Years of CTE Experience

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

This is the second part of a series exploring the 2016 presidential candidates’ positions, records and statements about Career Technical Education (CTE). This post examines the Democratic ticket. A previous post covering the Republican ticket is accessible here.

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) wave to the crowd during a campaign rally at Ernst Community Cultural Center in AnnandaleAn Advocate for Children and Families, Clinton Sees Opportunity in Free College

With decades in the public eye, Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton has had ample opportunity to define and hone her position on education, which she says “should be the great door-opener.” Her campaign aims to knock down barriers to the middle class through apprenticeships, career technical education (CTE) and debt-free college.

Clinton’s work in public education dates back to 1983 when, in her role as First Lady of Arkansas, she led an initiative to develop more rigorous standards for public schools in the state. Years later, as New York’s junior Senator, she went on to serve on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. There, she worked on two foundational pieces of education legislation: the No Child Left Behind Act and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins).

Clinton’s education policy platform for the 2016 election aims to expand access to the middle class by removing barriers to higher education. She has proposed a plan to make community colleges free and to cover the cost of tuition at in-state four-year public colleges and universities for families making less than $125,000. These proposals are loosely based on similar efforts in Tennessee and other states that have seen increased enrollment and higher retention rates at community and technical colleges.

As crucial as college is, Clinton asserted in her Democratic National Convention speech in July that, “a four-year degree should not be the only path to a good job.” She went on to say “we’re going to help more people learn a skill or practice a trade and make a good living doing it.” To do this, her campaign has proposed a tax credit of up to $1,500 for businesses hosting apprentices and is considering “options to incentivize CTE programs and help provide grants to train workers for the 21st century economy.”

Tim Kaine’s Support for CTE Dates Back to His Work as a Teacher in Honduras

Perhaps the the lengthiest CTE résumé this cycle goes to Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate Tim Kaine. His education record — which includes broad initiatives as Virginia Governor and tireless support for CTE in the Senate — dates all the way back to his childhood.

The son of a welder, Kaine briefly helped manage a technical school in Honduras before returning to complete his law degree at Harvard University. Kaine’s interest in CTE followed him to the Virginia Governor’s mansion where, in 2008, he announced an initiative to create six Career and Technical Academies across the state. The initiative, which was launched with a grant from the National Governor’s Association, aimed to align K-12 instruction in STEM fields with workforce and postsecondary expectations, while equipping more students with marketable skills that lead to high-demand, high-wage careers.

In Virginia, Kaine also launched the Governor’s CTE Exemplary Standards Awards Program, which recognizes CTE programs that align with industry standards, effectively engage local partners, provide relevant and integrated academic and technical instruction, and more.

In the Senate, Kaine co-founded the bipartisan CTE Caucus along with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) in 2014, stating that “career and technical programs … can strengthen the links between the classroom and the workplace, helping students acquire the education and skills that will help them find employment and enjoy productive, successful lives after graduation.” His work with this caucus has led to the introduction of a number of CTE-related legislation, including the Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce Act, which would establish a formal definition for CTE programs of study within the Perkins Act.

His persistent advocacy for high-quality CTE in the Senate led to a number of legislative victories, most recently in the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA). With Kaine’s support, ESSA now includes provisions to fund career counseling programs, help teachers integrate academic and technical instruction, add CTE to the definition of a “well-rounded education,” encourage states to use career readiness indicators in their accountability systems, and fund professional development for CTE teachers.

CTE has long benefited from bipartisan support, and the 2016 election is no exception. With mere months until the election, we look forward to the candidates continuing to elevate high-quality CTE as an effective educational strategy in their platforms, in their speeches and in the debates later this fall.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

 

By Austin Estes in News, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 

Series

Archives

1