Access, affordability and attainment continue to be recurring topics in higher education….. and it’s not going away any time soon. These issues are closely linked and each affects the other. Each of them also impacts the United States businesses and economy. Businesses have an effective tool to make the link between access, affordability and attainment a positive impact on their workforce.
Access to education is often directly related to affordability; financial concerns are something businesses can address with tuition assistance programs that help employees pay for higher education. A tuition assistance program makes higher education affordable and helps students attain the necessary skills and degrees that both employees and employers need.
“Older students are particularly relevant when considering college graduation and labor supply,” says Jeffrey T. Denning author of Upjohn Institute report “Born Under a Lucky Star: Financial Aid, College Completion, Labor Supply, and Credit Constraints.”
Even with employer sponsored programs the benefit provided doesn’t always offset the cost of education. Employers can help their employees by ensuring their education assistance programs are robust. These programs should also include resources such as education advising, coaching and counseling. Not only does this service help make employees smart consumers, it also provides a coach to help to successfully complete their degree. A service such as this helps students find a way to complete their education with no out of pocket expenses.
Non-traditional students are very close to, or already part of, the workforce. Many have achieved some college credit and could use tuition assistance to access higher education and ultimately attain their degree. “These students have accumulated substantial college credit, but many do not graduate in a timely manner. In fact, only 44 percent graduate in the year they turn 24. Some never graduate, and 17.3 percent have not received a bachelor’s degree after 4 years. These students are at the margin of graduation, and additional financial aid may enable them to accelerate their progress toward a degree or help them complete a degree when they otherwise would not.”
Tuition assistance can provide the financial support that working adults need and advising can help utilize the financial support in the most economical way. With it, they can enroll continually and develop momentum toward completion without depending on the need to qualify for financial aid programs, loans or grants.
Making tuition assistance available to all employees is a best practice for creating a strong workforce and economy. Education is the most effective force for creating an upwardly mobile population of consumers who actively participate in the economy and are engaged socially and civically, as part of the community.
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