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Articles: Student Services

Financial aid information is easy to find at Pierce College.

Working one’s way through college is the norm for community college students: 85 percent work part- or full-time. With an average tuition bill of $2,713 a year, only 13 percent turn to student loans.

But long work hours have a high cost, concludes a 2011 report by the College Board’s Advocacy & Policy Center. Only 21 percent of first-time, full-time community college students complete a degree or certificate in three years. The six-year completion or transfer rate is 31 percent. Part-timers, who make up 59 percent of enrollment, do even worse.

As we get ready to start the third year of our Models of Efficiency program, I want to take a moment to point with pride to the program’s success. Models of Efficiency is a national recognition program for those campus departments that have found ways to streamline operations, save money, and improve constituent satisfaction. That was the challenge we set forth when Models of Efficiency was first announced, and those solutions are just as important, if not more so, today.

Henry Ford brought efficiency to the forefront of American business with his assembly line, which introduced automobiles to the masses. “The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed,” he once said. This same mentality has allowed this fall’s Models of Efficiency honorees to improve services provided by their departments, all without spending a fortune—and often while saving a bundle.

College can be tough enough for traditional students. For those enrolled at community colleges, who often have less academic preparation and face added pressures from having to work to pay for school, the pathway to success can be even more daunting.

“In the community college system, we have open access, which means that any student who desires to come to us can,” says Patty Erjavec, president of Pueblo Community College (Colo.). “But keeping those students is a challenge, and graduating those students is a challenge.”

As if new student orientation wasn’t busy enough, the University of Oregon registrar’s staff was faced with processing thousands of pieces of paper containing Advanced Placement test scores that had arrived not long before the arrival of eager freshmen.

Because Oregon operates on the quarter system, orientation sessions are held throughout July, after AP scores are mailed to the school. That tied up personnel who had to manually enter the scores into Banner and pull files so that each session’s students could be properly advised on which courses to register for.

Both employers and employees struggle with health insurance costs. While most people think of doctors' visits when they think of health insurance, mental health and substance abuse treatment fall under the same umbrella. A recent study by a group of Harvard researchers from the Cambridge Health Alliance, found treatment coverage for medical school students is on the low end of the scale. Of the 115 med schools analyzed, fewer than 22 percent provide students with complete coverage, without co-pays or coinsurance, for mental health and substance abuse treatment.

  • 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy: Free program from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants to help Americans understand their personal finances through every stage of life
  • CashCourse: Free, noncommercial online educational materials from the National Endowment for Financial Education

Six years ago, when Ted Beck became president and CEO of the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), a nonprofit dedicated to helping Americans become more financially capable, student financial literacy had been overlooked by colleges and universities for a number of years.

"When I would talk to university presidents, parent groups, and students, they all thought [financial literacy] was a very important skill, but it was lacking in the college setting," recalls Beck.

As I watch seemingly happy, healthy students return to campus to start the fall semester, I cannot help but wonder what troubling emotions may be behind their beaming smiles. My curiosity is supported by the American College Counseling Association's recent survey finding the emotional health of incoming freshmen at a record low.

For many years, Mississippi ranked near the bottom in higher learning aspiration, academic attainment, and state support—but times have changed. Today, the state's economic and workforce development organizations are teaming up to launch a new collaboration between southern business, industry, and the Mississippi public system of higher education—a dynamic plan aptly named Blueprint Mississippi 2011. And who better to serve as Blueprint's Chair and chief spokesperson than Hank Bounds, commissioner of higher education.

game

Student-athletes face the daunting task of keeping up with their studies while also devoting considerable time to practicing, competing, and traveling. That pressure extends upward to coaches, administrators, and faculty members, who are required to assess student progress and make adjustments amidst wildly varying schedules.

Nelnet QuikPAY

Since the College at Brockport, State University of New York, began using the QuikPAY system from Nelnet Business Solutions, the school doesn’t hear complaints about bills for student account payments being lost in the mail. And, in the first month of use, there’s been a dramatic 475 percent increase in the amount of online payments collected, according to Teresa Major, director of student accounts and accounting services.

SMU

The need to find a better way of doing things was evident to Troy Behrens from the day he arrived as the new assistant vice president for student affairs at Southern Methodist University (Texas) and walked into SMU’s Hegi Family Career Development Center. “The red flag that I noticed right away was stacks and stacks of job postings,” he recalls. “They went back three or four years. There were binders upon binders piled up. It was nearly impossible for students to find what they were seeking, and it was impossible to guarantee to employers that what they were sending us was being seen.

financial aid

Complying with the growing and increasingly complex Title IV federal student aid regulations is an ongoing challenge for every campus that administers federal student aid. Performing a word count of student aid regulations in 2000 and 2010 reveals a 40 percent increase over that decade. A recent survey of financial aid administrators shows that increasing regulatory and compliance requirements are causing resource shortages in many financial aid offices.

Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

Stockton College and the FAA Tech Center are geographically close in New Jersey, but intellectually even closer thanks to their shared interest in technology, research, and collaboration. These collective pursuits led experts at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey to design and install a high-tech classroom at the Federal Aviation Administration's William J. Hughes Technical Center, which is located about 15 minutes from the school's campus.

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