- Wayne State University announced a debt forgiveness plan to bring students who started but didn’t finish back to the institution to complete their degree. The Warrior Way Back initiative allows students who are two or more years removed from taking classes and who owe $1,500 or less in institutional balances to re-enroll and reduce their past-due balances by one third at the end of each successfully completed semester until the debt is eliminated.
- Participating students will have access to support and resources, which officials of the Detroit university say are likely to be more robust than when students initially enrolled.
- Officials say that more than 700,000 adults in metropolitan Detroit have completed some college courses but did not earn a degree, with former WSU students accounting for 12,000 members of that group.
Wayne State officials say they hope that this debt forgiveness program is a model for other colleges around the country will implement to help students reduce debt and gain a credential for professional mobility. Columbia College is one institution that has introduced cost-reduction initiatives aimed at recruiting adult learners. Meanwhile, Mississippi, Indiana and Tennessee have begun marketing campaigns to encourage stop-out adult learners to return to campus and to complete degrees, a group that nationally totals more than 35 million, according to the Hechinger Report.
Institutions can take initiatives like these even further by addressing the issues that lead to dropouts in the first place. According to a recent study from the National Center for Education Statistics, first-generation students are less likely to have participated in advanced placement or college prep courses in high school and are less likely to enroll in college after high school graduation, with only 72% of first-generation students enrolling within 10 years compared with 93% of non-first-generation students.