A way back to school for students with debt but no degree

Daily Briefing

A way back to school for students with debt but no degree

Nearly 54 million adults in the United States hold an associate degree or attended some college without earning a bachelor’s degree. For too many of these students, the financial barriers to degree completion seem impossible to overcome. Roughly 60% of adults have considered returning to school to complete a degree, but worry about cost.

To ease the path to re-enrollment, Wayne State University has launched the Warrior Way Back program for students who left the university with debt and no degree. In the program, former students with an outstanding balance of $1,500 or less can re-enroll and “learn” away their debt. Wayne State will forgive a third of students’ debt each time they successfully complete a semester.

Wayne State’s debt-forgiveness program offers an alternative to the “widespread practice of account and transcript holds that have unnecessary punitive effects on low-income students and exacerbate racial education attainment disparities,” says Dawn Medley, associate vice president for enrollment management. “Many students are shut out of the path of higher education for small balances and never able to pursue their dream—we’re excited to reopen that path.”

Why free college initiative should focus on re-recruiting degree completers

The Warrior Way Back program has helped Detroit earn recognition as a Talent Hub by the Lumina Foundation and Kresge Foundation. Talent hubs are cities that attract, retain, and cultivate talent to address the growing demand for college-educated workers.

Ultimately, easing the path for re-enrollment is critical to filling the more than 6 million open jobs in the United States, Jeremy House wrote for Education Dive in 2017. And if colleges are going to equip adult learners with the skills they need to advance their careers, they need to collaborate with local employers and policymakers, he argued.

“Welcoming these students back to higher education is about so much more than just getting them through the doors again,” Medley says. “Wayne State is making an investment in their success—and the successes they will bring their communities and future employers—because we believe everyone should have equal access to higher education” (CBS, 6/4; Wayne State University press release, 6/4).

Related: The 10 best jobs in America for 2018, according to Indeed

EAB asks you to accept cookies for authorization purposes, as well as to track usage data and for marketing purposes. To get more information about these cookies and the processing of your personal information, please see our Privacy Policy. Do you accept these cookies and the processing of your personal information involved?