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December 1, 2014 - Complete College America Releases Affordability Strategy Based on Guided Pathways to Success to Improve Completion Rates, Reduce High Cost of Extra Time on Campus RSS feed

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Complege College America logo.Acknowledging that Oklahoma is a national leader in college affordability and low student debt, Complete College America and its Alliance of States reveal in their latest report, The Four-Year Myth, that the vast majority of full-time American college students do not graduate on time, costing them and their families tens of thousands of dollars in extra college-related expenses, as well as lost wages from delaying entry into the workforce. The report also points to spikes in debt in years 5 and 6 and shows that the overwhelming majority of public four-year colleges graduate less than half of their students on time.

As a solution, Complete College America advocates for the implementation of a restructuring of higher education delivery called Guided Pathways to Success (GPS) that would provide students with the most direct route to graduation. Utilizing GPS, majors are organized into a semester-by-semester set of courses that lead to on-time completion, saving students and their families the time and money associated with extended time on campus.

GPS creates a partnership between students and institutions. Students commit to a structured schedule of courses and elective offerings that represent the shortest distance to completion. In return, institutions provide clear degree maps, closely monitor student progress and guarantee that the necessary courses will be available when they are needed. Institutions that have implemented these approaches have seen dramatic improvements in completion. For example, Arizona State University’s use of GPS strategies through their eAdvisor system has led to an increase of nearly 16 percentage points in the number of students who graduate on time.

“While Oklahoma is a national leader in college affordability and low student debt, student loan debt, nationally, has for the first time topped one trillion dollars – more than credit card and auto loan debt combined,” said Complete College America President Stan Jones. “Our Alliance of States is committed to shining a light on on-time graduation rates and pursuing reforms that increase college completion and shorten the time to degree. We know that the best strategy to make college more affordable is to ensure many more students graduate and graduate on time.”

In Oklahoma, a member of Complete College America’s Alliance of States, efforts are currently underway to improve on-time completion rates and to ensure that college is affordable.

“Oklahoma state system colleges and universities remain committed to initiatives that create additional pathways to degree completion and that reduce time to degree,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. “We recognize the critical importance of affordability as it relates to college access, retention and completion – our state’s higher education system is ranked by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation as the fifth most affordable system in the nation. To meet Oklahoma’s workforce needs, we will continue working with CCA officials, our state policy leaders and our college, university and CareerTech campuses toward a 67 percent increase in the number of degrees and certificates conferred in our state by 2023.”

Pathways to Success is a major element of Oklahoma’s college completion initiative. Oklahoma has approved changes to its tuition policy to encourage the 15 to Finish concept through the adoption of block tuition, which has been implemented at four Oklahoma public institutions. Also, new, enhanced advising systems are underway at campuses throughout the state’s higher education system to help students find degree paths, stay on track and finish on time.

Oklahoma public higher education has also been transforming remediation on every campus by implementing summer bridge programs, redesigning courses and requiring co-requisite courses in math and science to help students graduate on time. A new remediation assessment policy, currently pending approval, will allow state system campuses to be more flexible in addressing student course needs.

Additionally, transferring from one Oklahoma college or university to another is easier for many of Oklahoma’s undergraduate college students. The state’s nationally-recognized course equivalency project facilitates student transfer by ensuring the maximum number of credit hours and course work transfer among both private and public institutions.

About Complete College America
Established in 2009, Complete College America is a national nonprofit with a single mission: to work with states to significantly increase the number of Americans with quality career certificates or college degrees and to close attainment gaps for traditionally underrepresented populations. For more information, visit completecollege.org.