Several states seek to re-recruit former college dropouts

Incentive programs woo adults to return to school

States are taking measures to encourage adults with some college experience to return and complete their degrees, Ron French writes for Bridge Magazine

For example, about 25% of adults in Michigan have racked up some college credits but have not completed any sort of degree or certificate. This poses a major issue for them in the job market. In Michigan alone, 60% of jobs are estimated to require a degree beyond high school by 2025.

Virginia, Tennessee, and Connecticut lend insight into several successful solutions, most of which revolve around financial incentives.

In Virginia, the Virginia Transfer Grant, which costs the state an average of $1.65 million per year, offers $3,000 annually to students who have completed an associate degree in order to transfer to a participating four-year college for a bachelor’s degree.

In Tennessee, two recent initiatives are working to bring nearly 700,000 former students back to school: the Tennessee Reconnect program allows dropouts to return to technical and community colleges to complete an associate degree free of cost, while another state-funded campaign is underway to locate and reconnect with these adults. 

Two strategies to ease the path to re-enrollment for adult degree completers

Connecticut’s pilot program, Go Back to Get Ahead, offers students one three-credit class per semester free of cost for up to three semesters when they return to complete a degree. In addition, Connecticut is home to the state-funded Charter Oak State College, a school with the primary mission of helping returning students complete degrees. Charter Oak accepts nearly all transfer credits and offers online courses to facilitate completion. Charter Oak, as well as similar completion schools in Colorado, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Illinois has more than doubled its completed degrees in the past 15 years (French, Bridge Magazine, 9/15).

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