Initiative Supports MO 'Stopped-Out' Students Close to Completing College
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
More than 600,000 Missourians have some postsecondary experience but have not earned a college degree or credential. Some Missouri colleges and universities want to change that, through an initiative called Degrees When Due.
The University of Central Missouri is one of the participating schools. Brenda Fuhr, the university's academic advisor and lead coordinator of student transition and engagement, said they've been working to identify students who've stopped out, to see what their options are. They might have to finish up a few course requirements, or they may already qualify for what's known as a general studies degree. She said financial concerns also are a factor.
"Students leaving without a degree and having debt - that is a large burden for them as they're trying to go into the workforce," she said.
A report from the Institute for Higher Education Policy, which runs the Degrees When Due national program, said about one-third of "near-completers" are missing courses specific to their major, more than a quarter are missing general education courses and nearly 15% are missing a math requirement.
Laurel Hogue, vice provost of online and learning engagement at the university, noted that UCM identified about 450 students in a five-year period who had left the university in good academic standing - meaning they had higher than a 2.0 grade-point average and at least 90 credit hours. Hogue said a common reason for leaving was needing more flexibility, such as a hybrid or online option for classes, while others cited cost.
"We had identified 120 of them who actually had left the university with some financial debt," she said, "which means they couldn't enroll in their next semester because they had owed money from the previous semester that they were enrolled in."
She added that the average debt for those students was just $1,800. According to the report, 10% of folks with some college but no credential actually already have earned a degree, but it hasn't been awarded - often because of financial holds or incomplete paperwork. Black, Brown and Indigenous students were more likely to be in that 10% than their white peers.
Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.
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