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Articles: Tuition

Almost all U.S. colleges and universities now award certificates, digital badges and other forms of microcredentials. Driving this fast-growing trend are workforce millennials who want to learn, for instance, how to operate an Amazon delivery drone or repair a self-driving car without having to earn another degree.

Need-based financial aid was supposed to give everyone an opportunity to get into college and better their lives and career prospects. Nearly half of the public, four-year colleges studied in a new report leave the most financially needy students on the hook for more than $10,000 of debt per school year.

Jeffrey R. Docking is the president of Adrian College in Michigan and the author of "Crisis in Higher Education: A Plan To Save Small Liberal Arts Colleges in America."

Sometimes, well-known propositions lead to predictable conclusions. But not always. Occasionally, they lead to surprises—and even busted myths. Here’s one: Wealthy, private institutions willing to invest large endowments in financial aid for poorer students do the best job of expanding access to higher education.

Out in front with OER: Tidewater Community College created the first degree program—in business administration—to use only open-educational resources.

A few dozen community colleges will get financial backing to design degree programs based wholly on free, open educational resources (OER) in a sweeping effort to make higher ed more affordable. Full-time community college students spend about $1,300 a year on textbooks, ultimately representing about a third of the cost of their associate degrees.

University of Maine has been strategic in offering discounted tuition to students in certain states. (Gettyimages.com: Crossroadscreative)

Students from six nearby states can now attend the University of Maine at the same in-state tuition rate offered by the flagship institutions in their home states.

The university launched its Flagship Match program this spring to boost not just its enrollment, but also prestige.

As completion rates of full-time students in Maine flounder and high school graduation numbers fall in the Northeast (by a predicted 5 percent in the next five years), university leaders look outside the state to fill classrooms.

Some are skeptical about the ability for any school to be need-blind, because anyone viewing an application can surmise financial need without reading a student’s FAFSA form.

The answers to common questions about need-blind policies sheds light on why they’ve been adopted whether they work and whether other enrollment diversity initiatives can be just as effective.

Some low-income high school students in Adams State University’s service area, the rural valleys of southern Colorado, live up to 50 or 60 miles from campus. Thanks to a new federal pilot program, these students there and 43 other institutions can now use Pell Grants to take dual-enrollment courses.

The Consumer Financial ProtectionBureau’s forthcoming “Payback Playbook” intends to simplify the student loan repayment process by presenting clear, customized repayment options.

In April, the agency offered a sneak peek. The initiative will provide borrowers with simple repayment plan options any time they log into their student loan account. The Playbook summary will also be included with their monthly loan bills or in regular emails from their student loan servicers.

Community colleges have been in the news during the current election cycle, due to plans by some politicians—including President Obama and Sen. Bernie Sanders—who suggest the federal government should provide free education for any citizen willing to put in the bookwork.

But so far this is just talk for colleges, which have yet to plan for the contingency of becoming a gratis educational option for the populace.

Jon McGee, vice president for planning and public affairs at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, says many colleges and universities are too focused on the present to prepare for the changes ahead.

In his book, Breakpoint: The Changing Marketplace for Higher Education, Jon McGee says higher education is in the midst of an extraordinary transitional period that has significant implications for how colleges understand their mission, their market and their management.

Jennifer Wick is vice president of Scannell & Kurz higher education enrollment consultants, a Ruffalo Cody company.

The shift to the use of families’ Prior-Prior Year (PPY) financial data on the FAFSA has come to pass. This shift has far-reaching implications not only for timing of financial aid awards, but also in other aspects of enrollment, such as marketing, recruitment and institutional budgeting.

The traditional MBA, the flagship of graduate business education for more than a century, is losing ground as applicants increasingly turn to online degrees and specialized master’s programs in business-related fields.

Most colleges and universities will continue to face financial hurdles, and although there is much crossover, certain issues will be more or less of a concern based on the size of the university and its student population. One thing is true across the board: Student expectations are changing.

A sampling of responses to UB's Look Ahead surveys of campus leaders. (Click to enlarge infographic)

As we ring in 2016, higher education leaders have much to look forward to as well as, of course, much work to be done. Outlook 2016 is UB’s second annual special issue aimed at providing insight on the major trends expected to impact campus leaders in the year to come.

A new book by Melinda Lewis and William Elliott shows how current aid models contribute to inequality, and discusses a number of promising alternatives.

Higher education is supposed to be a critical first step on the ladder that leads to economic mobility. But William Elliott and Melinda Lewis say that students often leave school with debilitating debt that delays or even prevents any upward climb on that ladder.

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