SOURCE: The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning

The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning

January 21, 2015 06:30 ET

Council for Adult & Experiential Learning Commends Presidential Proposal on Community Colleges: America's College Promise Proposal Needed to Help Adult Learners and Keep Country Competitive

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwired - January 21, 2015) - The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) today applauded President Obama for his America's College Promise proposal discussed in Tuesday's State of the Union address, Pamela Tate, CAEL CEO and President announced today. The proposal would make two years of community college free for responsible students, letting students earn the first half of a bachelor's degree and earn skills needed in the workforce at no cost. 

In making the announcement Tate said, "Many of today's adult learners do not have access to the same resources available to traditional students and this proposal can help bridge the gap and help thousands of learners earn their degree. For the first time, part time students at community colleges, most of whom are adults, will have easier access to a path to a college degree, thanks to this proposal. Estimates from the Federal government show that by 2020, 35 percent of job openings will require at least a bachelor's degree, and 30 percent will require some college or an associate's degree. Community colleges provide a valuable resource for older, working students in particular, and making this resource available to everyone can help this segment of the workforce earn their degree so they have the skills necessary to fill open jobs and keep our country competitive."

According to a fact sheet prepared by the White House, forty percent of college students are enrolled at one of America's more than 1,100 community colleges, which offer students affordable tuition, open admission policies, and convenient locations. The White House believes they are particularly important for students who are older, working, need remedial classes, or can only take classes part-time, and, that for many students, community colleges offer academic programs and an affordable route to a four-year college degree. Finally, the White House points out that community colleges are also uniquely positioned to partner with employers to create tailored training programs to meet economic needs within their communities such as nursing, health information technology, and advanced manufacturing.

Tate did caution, however, that the Administration should consider carefully its requirement that in order to qualify students must demonstrate they are "responsible" by going to school at least half-time. "Many of today's adult students are also working parents with limited time available for classes. Any proposal being considered should certainly include this group of non-traditional students as well," she said. 

According to the President's proposal, students who attend at least half-time, maintain a 2.5 GPA while in college, and make steady progress toward completing their program will have their tuition eliminated. 

"President Obama's America's College Promise proposal removes a significant obstacle so that anyone who wants to pursue a college degree has the opportunity to do so, and we applaud him for it. At the same time we need to continue to evaluate other new initiatives such as prior learning assessment or competency based education that can translate learning from life experiences into college credit to help more Americans earn their degree. Proposals that help adults earn their degree are the key to the highly trained and educated workforce that is so critical to our nation's future," concluded Tate. 

The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) is a nonprofit 501(c) (3) organization based in Chicago, Illinois that assists adults with their educational endeavors, finding practical ways to earn college credit for learning acquired through training and work experiences. CAEL works with the public sector, private sector industries and higher education institutions to ensure that adult students receive the most efficient training and education to occupy a meaningful professional place in a 21st century economy. Since 1974, CAEL has assisted colleges and universities in providing college credit for prior learning. CAEL is the recognized national expert on a method known as portfolio assessment, and their Ten Standards for Assessing Learning are used by colleges and universities, as well as accrediting organizations, across the country.

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