Making college affordable: five ways that states, schools are trying to help

Student debt and skyrocketing tuition make headlines. But this week, both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have sought to highlight the silver lining – examples of how states and institutions have been trying to reduce the cost of higher education.

Here are some ideas presented in a hearing Wednesday held by the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, and another Thursday morning before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

2. Speed up the time it takes to get a degree

Just over half of full-time students graduate with four-year bachelor’s degrees in six years, and less than a third earn a two-year associate’s degree in three years, according to testimony Thursday by Stan Jones, president of Complete College America.

But more colleges and universities are creating dual-enrollment programs where high school students can earn college credits for free. At Tallahassee Community College in Florida, which enrolls about 15,000 students, nearly 25 percent arrive with more than 20 such credits.

And at Ivy Tech Community College, a statewide system in Indiana, students in the accelerated degree program can earn a two-year degree in just 11 months by taking classes five days a week and agreeing not to work while attending school.

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