State education leaders are working to lower the cost of a college degree through a number of efforts, including the expansion of a thriving program at Columbus State Community College.
Mike Foley reports.
It’s called a 3+1 degree, allowing students to complete three years of coursework at a community college and finish their degree at a four-year university. The advantage comes in the cost of the degree. A 2014 study by the Institute for College Access and Success found that 67 percent of Ohio students graduating from four-year schools had an average debt of $29,353 per borrower. Columbus State Community College President David Harrison says while the standard of studying two years at a community college leading up to a university transfer has helped, the 3+1 model offers even more affordability.
“An important equation with regard to the student debt issue is that so many students are graduating from bachelor’s degree institutions with huge amounts of debt but aren’t going into jobs where they’re making enough money to service the debt that they’ve taken on. This 3+1 arrangement really changes that conversation because most of those programs are focused on high paying, high growth careers in fields like healthcare, insurance, financial services and technology. The ability for our students to graduate from these programs debt free and make more money than students who have taken on $30,000, $40,000, $100,000 to earn their bachelor’s degree is really a big deal.”
Columbus State has such an agreement with Ohio University for a limited number of fields, including nursing. But the community college’s largest 3+1 program involves Franklin University with more than 30 primary areas of study and various specialties. Through 3+1 and various other agreements, Franklin University President David Decker says 2,162 students have transferred to Franklin from Columbus State just since last summer. Decker says more recently that partnership expanded in what’s called the Exact Track business program.
“In the Delaware campus, where we have a cohort of students who can save time and money by earning their bachelor’s degree in less than four years with a predictable class schedule that offers students to take classes one evening per week and online. Students get free books, they benefit from seamless admission, credit transfer, financial aid processing and transcripting. It also provides the benefit of a set tuition rate for Franklin classes for the entire duration of the student’s study.”
Franklin University has also created a web tool where students can enter their transfer credits, see the dollar value of those credits and then receive an estimated cost to obtain a degree long with a completion date based on whether they attend full or part time. Meanwhile, state education leaders are looking at offering up to ten bachelor’s degree programs at Ohio’s community colleges and creating more 3+1 agreements between two and four-year institutions.