University Business October 2017 - 15

COLLEGE ACCESS

Fulfilling the
promise of 'free'
community college
As the term "free college" draws applicants
and ever-more media attention, states,
cities and colleges are learning the realities
of these large-scale aid programs.
In Oregon, due to an $8 million
deficit in state appropriations for its $40
million Promise program, only 4 out of
5 eligible students (recent high school
grads and GED holders) will be awarded
scholarships in its first year.
Community colleges' funding, when
it's part of a state's general budget, is often
cut before other areas, says Carrie Kisker,
education research, policy consultant and
director of the Center for the Study of
Community Colleges. "I imagine we will
see this happening across the country."
Universities, states and cities are amping up communication with applicants
to better serve them and create a positive
buzz around free tuition programs. For
example, students are encouraged to fill
out their FAFSAs and apply for other
grants to stretch these programs further,
says Kisker. Many Promise programs operate as last dollar-filling gaps in tuition
after other financial aid is applied. Some
programs offer extras for low-income students, such as a $1,000 grant over tuition
for eligible Oregon Promise students.
"Being able to plan for college does
depend on having information far enough
in advance that families can use a grant,"
says Ben Cannon, executive director of
Oregon's Higher Education Coordinating Commission. "Unfortunately, there is
sometimes a short window between state
funding decisions and the actual effect of
the budget on students and families."
Oregon would benefit from creating a
dedicated funding source for the program,
as Tennessee did for its Promise program,
he adds. -Stefanie Botelho
www.universitybusiness.com

If only these schools could talk
Private college leaders want to collaborate more closely on issues of
access and affordability-but federal
antitrust laws prevent institutions from
even having discussion about them.
"They can't discuss price or principles
of financial aid," says Sarah Flanagan,
VP of government relations and policy
development at the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), which has lobbied
Congress to provide an exemption.
This five-year exemption would give
private schools a fairer chance to adapt
to the changing higher ed market.
"Many would like to do something
different with their market structures,

as some colleges would like to direct
aid more toward need than merit," says
Flanagan. "They would like to discuss
that collectively."
The exemption would allow any
public or private institution to explore
taxpayer investment versus degree attainment, says Flanagan. It is difficult
to know which programs are the most
successful unless they can be compared
and analyzed under the same set of
standards.
"With this exemption," says Flanagan, "private institutions can share
what they offer in the current higher
ed landscape, and learn from successful
business models." -S.B.

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October 2017 | 15


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of University Business October 2017

University Business October 2017 - Cover1
University Business October 2017 - Cover2
University Business October 2017 - 1
University Business October 2017 - 2
University Business October 2017 - 3
University Business October 2017 - 4
University Business October 2017 - 5
University Business October 2017 - 6
University Business October 2017 - 7
University Business October 2017 - 8
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University Business October 2017 - Cover3
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