Institutions are concerned that entering freshman suffered learning loss as a result of remote learning during the last year. In order to help students rebuild academic and social strengths, schools are planning extra tutoring, more academic counseling, and making course adjustments. Sacramento State University is using federal relief funds to expand its noncredit supplemental course offerings. With federal relief monies, UC Riverside will hire 50 additional tutors and supplemental instructors to provide students with small group review and study support. Class of 2021 graduates and college faculty interviewed agree that it will take some time for students to transition back into the classroom.
College Persistence Rates Drop
The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center issued a new report last week showing a significant drop in first-year persistence rates this past academic year. It’s the lowest persistence rate of a first-year class since 2012. Community college students accounted for the largest decline in persistence with 58.5% of first-year students enrolling in a second year, down 3.5%. Around 600,000 fewer students attended college in the spring 2021 semester than the previous spring term. Institutions are hopeful as the pandemic wanes that enrollment numbers will increase.
4.3%: Drop in part-time community college student persistence in 2020-2021
US Department of Education Relaxes Aid Verification for 2021-2022
On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Education “announced that it will waive verification requirements for most of the information that federal-aid applicants must provide during the 2021-22 enrollment cycle.” This will ease the burden on low-income students to provide additional proof of the accuracy of the information reported on their FAFSA forms. In past years, the Federal Student Aid office (FSA) has selected 38%, or more than three million federal-aid applicants, for verification. This year the FSA is targeting 18% of applications for verification.
“Students from low-income backgrounds who should be receiving need-based aid will be able to access that aid without having to jump through additional hoops to get it.” - Carrie Warick, National College Attainment Network (NCAN)
Business Partnerships with Community Colleges Create Job Opportunities
This week the Hechinger Report examines a new bill in front of the Senate to expand opportunities for community colleges to meet local work needs through workforce development. The Assisting Community Colleges in Educating Skilled Students to Careers Act, also known as the ACCESS to Careers Act, proposes funds for states to develop workforce development programs and resources for community colleges to implement training programming. The pandemic has accelerated an increase in partnerships between businesses and community colleges. For example, LaGuardia Community College has begun offering a 9 credit medical billing credential in conjunction with regional healthcare groups Weill Cornell Medicine and Mount Sinai Health System.
Higher Education Workforce Sees Growth
Over the course of the pandemic, higher education shed 660,000 positions. “The net loss in jobs was so large that it erased more than a decade of job gains within the industry, with higher ed’s work force matching its size in February 2008.” But, new data indicates that the higher education labor force is once again growing. The sector added 90,000 jobs in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Author: Meg Foster
July 16, 2021