Most people imagine that a bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete, the length of time that programs are designed to take. S. who complete a bachelor’s degree is 5.1 years. That means that they may be paying 28% more in tuition and fees than they had intended at the time they enrolled.
While the failure to complete a degree program is often driven by students changing majors or needing to retake classes that are required for graduation, delays are sometimes caused by colleges that fail to offer enough seats in courses that students need for graduation.
Some colleges are responding to the latter problem. These guarantees often require students to meet with an advisor periodically throughout their academic career to ensure that, if possible, they are making strides toward on-time graduation. If students, despite efforts with the support of an advisor, fail to get through their degree in four years, they are generally able to enroll in courses without having to pay tuition until they’ve completed their degree.
While on-time graduation guarantees benefit students, they didn’t necessarily come about in response to student demands. In fact, most students aren’t aware that extended enrollment is an issue. Instead, it seems that institutions may be responding to pressure from third-party observers, namely U.S. News & World Report, which ranks institutions higher if more of their students graduate on time. SUNY Buffalo cites an improved ranking from U.S. News as a positive outcome of the finish in four program in a press release.
Understanding Student Attitudes on Risk
As someone who studies the economic and financial risks of higher education, I think that guarantees sound like a great idea. But they might not seem like a great idea to students, for any number of reasons-and the future of guarantee programs will depend on their appeal to students.
Unfortunately, guarantees are not free. When a college, or a financial institution, accepts the risk that was formerly held by an individual student, it imposes a cost. In a marketplace for education, such as the one we have in this country, the cost will be passed on, at least in part, to the student. So the future of money-back guarantees depends on whether students value the alleviation of risk enough to be willing to pay the additional expense. Ultimately, this question can be answered only with data.
On-time graduation guarantees are now being offered at some campuses such as the https://paydayloanscalifornia.net/cities/capitola/ State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo, which announced a finish in four guarantee in 2012
To generate evidence, I conducted focus groups, with the help of researchers at Mathematica, to investigate how students perceive the riskiness of higher education and gauge their reactions to the idea of guarantees.
In , Mathematica conducted three three-day-long, asynchronous virtual focus groups with a total of 80 participants. Participants were organized into three separate groups drawn from the population of current postsecondary students (Group 1), recent postsecondary students (Group 2), and young adults with no postsecondary education (Group 3).
Although including a truly representative sample was outside the scope of this project, Mathematica endeavored to ensure that all three focus groups were roughly balanced in terms of participants’ age, race, and gender.
The focus groups were conducted using QualBoard, an online discussion-board platform that allows participants to type in responses rather than speak as they would in face-to-face or telephone-based focus groups. This method allowed the groups to be asynchronous, meaning that participants were not necessarily online and responding to questions at the same time. Instead, they could log into and out of the discussion at their convenience. It also enabled participants to be anonymous (identified only by first name and last initial) and not bound by physical location.