Embattled Colleges Focus on an Obvious Fix: Helping Students Graduate on Time

"Noah Williams’ college education was behind schedule before he even stepped foot in a classroom," according to The Hechinger Report. "By the time Williams arrived at the University of Washington as a freshman, all the courses he needed for his major in biochemistry were full, pushing him back by at least a quarter."

"Instead of chemistry, calculus, physics or biology, he ended up with an introductory astronomy course, an elective in nutrition, and no chance of graduating in the four years he’d hoped it would take.

The courses 'were interesting but weren’t relevant to what I’m going to pursue, so it set me back,' Williams, who is now a sophomore, said outside the university’s Suzzallo Library, a Collegiate Gothic-style landmark often likened to the Hogwarts School of the Harry Potter novels. 'It’s just the little things' that can derail students, he said. 

In addition to time, delays like this cost money, raising the cost of tuition even higher than the mounting sums many families already expect to pay.

They also mean that students still are sitting in classrooms after five or six years, often piling up debt, rather than getting started on careers or earning incomes.

Yet while 86 percent of incoming freshmen said in an annual national survey conducted by a research institute at UCLA that they were confident they’d graduate in four years, only 41 percent at public and 61 percent at private four-year universities actually do, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, which tracks this.

Now higher-education institutions including the University of Washington, or UW, are working to help their students graduate on time.

Partly they’re concerned about the students. But financial and political realities are also forcing colleges and universities to focus on this longstanding problem in new and aggressive ways.

Students who stick around for more than four years, after all, use up dwindling state subsidies, financial aid and housing, and legislatures are increasingly tying public universities’ budgets to the proportion of their students who graduate on time."

NASFAA's "Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.


Publication Date: 5/16/2018

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