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Colleges Push for On-Time Graduation;Denver College Keeps the DREAM Alive


Colleges Push Urge Students to Graduate On-Time Colleges across the country are pushing to get more students. University officials, citing a waste of tax dollars, spiraling tuition and America’s fall in college attainment compared to other countries across the globe. University officials are pushing to change the culture at state schools that has permitted students to take a “slow-track” approach to graduation. According to a U.S. Department of Education survey on on-time college graduation rates, the University of Virginia has the highest on-time rate of all state schools – at 85 percent, while the University of Alaska ranks last in the country. Private universities have a better on-time graduation rate; thanks to the pressure parents—who are footing the bill—are outing on the students. “The longer it takes people to graduate, the less likely they are to graduate – ever,”  former Princeton president William Bowen said. “For those state college attendees or those who do not graduate on time, it’s the waste of tax dollars given by the state to help subsidize their education, through grants and scholarships that have legislators worried. “Each dawdling student prevents another student form coming in and starting that process,” says Texas State Senator Florence Shapiro (R), whose state pays an average of $7,563 annually per student. The University of Texas-Austin has announced a plan to raise its on-time graduation rate to 70 percent by 2016, which would be a 17 percent increase from the current 53 percent. [The Washington Post]

Denver College Proposes Special Tuition Deal for Undocumented Prospective Students Metropolitan State College in Denver is debating a measure that would cut the cost of enrollment at the school for undocumented immigrants in half, assuming they have a high school degree or GED in the state. Eligible students must be able to prove that they have lived in Colorado for more than three years, and the proposal would save the recipients $4,634.30 per academic year, from the standard tuition rate of $7,992.60. The measure is set to be discussed in a meeting of the board of trustees' academic affairs and finance committee on Wednesday, and could be voted on by the full board by Thursday if approved, with the rates taking effect this fall. "We know that this is something that is sure to engender passions, and we'll see it on both sides of the issue," Metro State president Stephen Jordan said. "But we feel this is consistent with our mission and the population that we serve." The school took the lead on implementing tuition relief for immigrants after the state balked at passing a bill, called the State Advancing Students for a Stronger Economy Tomorrow, or ASSET bill, failed to pass. The proposal, however, has drawn sharp criticism from some members of the Legislature, like Nancy Spence (R-Centennial), who believes the discount will be a waste, as undocumented youth will be thwarted to apply for gainful employment since they lack proper identification. "I understand they (undocumented youth) can be very bright and ambitious and as Americanized as you and me, but at the end of the day, they can't get a Social Security number and so they can't get a job," Spence said. "So they would have to have to lie and cheat and steal to get hired. And if they can't get hired, then they wouldn't be able to pay back their student loans." Jordan, who was an avid supporter of the ASSET bill, pointed out that undocumented immigrants cannot receive federal financial aid and the proposal is also in keeping with a state law that prohibits any undocumented person from receiving state benefits. The rate does not include state subsidies. [The Denver Post]

ACA in Question Can Affect Millions of Youth But Has Image Problem The Affordable Care Act, which is currently under review by the Supreme Court, could impact the lives of 15 million uninsured young Americans—that is if it can last until it’s planned implementation in 2014. In April, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito said, “When [young adults] think they have a substantial risk of incurring medical bills, they’ll buy insurance, like the rest of us.” The issue, however, is the costs associated with affording for the care for younger populations. These “young invincibles” are the least likely generation to have personal health insurance, or to afford the costs associated with paying out of pocket for care when they need it. Abigail English, who serves as the director of the Center for Adolescent Health and Law, decried the notion that young people don’t need or want health insurance, calling the notion “completely nuts.” English points out that with the weak job market, and large “gaps” in coverage from family or school insurance to employee-sponsored insurance the health risks are high, especially with the rise in chronic diseases like diabetes and asthma amongst the group. Recent polls have shown that the ACA has an image problem with youth, as a recent survey of young adults between the age of 18 and 29 found. The survey found that half disapprove of the way President Obama is handling healthcare, while a mere 23 percent objected to the idea that health coverage for all is a universal right, and that the government should provide coverage for all who can’t pay for it themselves. Many youth, like Inga Haugen, believe that American citizens should invest fully in the nation’s healthcare system with their tax dollars. “For people to kick in their fair share seems appropriate, for something that everybody is going to use.” [The Nation]

Christopher Boan is a journalism intern with Campus Progress.

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