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Cut College Costs Using Carrots, Not Sticks | Commentary

Additionally, we must change the focus of higher ed from an antiquated time-based credit-hour system to one that is focused on student learning and outcomes. It’s about learning, not time. Competency programs and credit for prior learning both belong in the mainstream. Such efforts reduce time-to-degree and cost, while increasing the likelihood of completion 2.5 times, according to research by the Council on Adult and Experiential Learning.

We maintain that greater buy-in will come in with incentive carrots, not regulatory sticks. Rather than mandate acceptance of credits in transfer (and thereby provoke a war with faculty), we propose adding a feature to the president’s rating system that recognizes — and rewards — institutions for accepting prior learning and transfer credit. This is where real savings can be realized.

John F. Ebersole is president of Excelsior College in Albany, N.Y. Bill Simmons is a managing principal at Dutko Grayling.

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