Should Colleges Incentivize Part-Time Students?
When students attend college full-time, research has shown that completion rates rise. Those students also tend to accrue less debt. With that in mind, in 2015, City Colleges of Chicago revamped its tuition structure to incentivize students to take more credits.
The plan made one course cost $599, 5 to 11 credits were $1,069, and the school offered a flat rate of $1,753 flat fee for anyone taking at least 12 credits.
But there was a backlash to the incentives, which essentially penalizes students who are taking fewer courses because of work or family obligations. So last week, the system’s governing board make sweeping changes to the part-time rate as well. The board cut the cost of a single course by 25 percent, and also changed the price of a course load less than 12 credits to $146 per credit hour.
“We’re keeping the best elements of the 2015 plan, and the adjustment we’re making here is with part-time students,” Juan Salgado, City Colleges’ chancellor, told the Ashley A. Smith for an article in Inside Higher Ed. “We understand part-time students take a part-time course load based on the rhythm of their lives. It’s based on family and work responsibilities.”
But some aren’t sure that it’s wise to incentivize lighter class loads. Bruce Vandal, senior vice president of Complete College America, advocates for students to attend full-time to encourage completion.
“We applaud efforts that make college more affordable, but every step we take must recognize that the longer it takes to graduate the more life gets in the way,” Vandal told Inside Higher Ed via email.