Op-Ed: Incentives for Returning Students Could Boost College Completion Rates

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Want to increase the number of US adults who hold bachelor’s degrees?

One former college president is urging legislators to offer financial incentives to adult students who wish to return to school.

One in five Americans between the ages of 25 and 64 started college but have not finished, Sanford J. Ungar wrote in a Washington Post op-ed published last month.

“Beginning at the federal level, for those no longer enrolled thought to be a quarter or a third of the way through college, members of both parties in Congress should design a new, experimental program that makes it possible for what are known as ‘ready adults’ to complete college at a reduced cost,” Ungar wrote. “In the same way programs have been designed to provide veterans with incentives to go back to school, Congress should create incentives for college-leavers to re-enroll, and for institutions of varied sizes and shapes, with different resources, to accommodate their transitions.”

Incentives to enroll could include tax credits, forgiveness of any existing student loan debts, and subsidies for students pursuing high demand majors.

States should also develop initiatives targeting adult students, noted Ungar, president emeritus of Goucher College (MD).

“A second change for a meaningful credential should at least be available to those who have previously made a sincere effort to obtain one,” he wrote. “The best investment for states that seek to provide tuition subsidies to students would be in those who have already started down the path of obtaining the knowledge and credentials that will make them employable.”

Read the full article and check out NACAC’s tips for adults returning to college.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

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