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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

NJ considers plan to help thousands go back to college to finish degree

Photo: Phil Gregory
Phil Gregory summarizes, "An estimated 850,000 New Jersey residents have left college before getting a degree. A proposed statewide program would help them afford the credits they need to get one."

The College Affordability Study Commission hears the proposal from Thomas Edison State College to develop a statewide network to help colleges grant credits to older returning students for life and work experience. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Thomas Edison State College, a distance-learning school catering to adults, has the experience to operate a prior learning assessment for all colleges in New Jersey, said provost William Seaton.

Allowing schools to grant returning students credits life and work experience would reduce costs for students and also benefit colleges, he said.

"They attract students who might not come back to their campus, but they also don't have the expense of staffing the course because those students aren't in the course. So they don't lose money by doing this," Seaton said. "They actually will gain by having additional students come back."

The College Affordability Study Commission will consider the idea and could include it the recommendations it will make next year.

A more educated workforce would help the state compete better economically, said Frederick Keating, commission chairman.