Innovative Solutions

Some states and institutions are stepping up to the challenge by creating innovative incentives to make awarding credit for out-of-classroom learning more appealing to both institutions and students.

New Jersey: NJPLACE 2.0 Statewide Grant Program

New Jersey: NJPLACE 2.0 Statewide Grant Program

Barrier: Developing work-based learning pathways (such as degree apprenticeships) can be expensive for institutions to undertake because of the multiple stakeholders involved and the intensive amount of time it takes to set up such programs to meet academic requirements of faculty and accreditors. Solution: New Jersey’s Department of Labor developed the NJPLACE 2.0 grant program totaling $2 million in grants to institutions to develop degree apprenticeships in specified high wage, high growth fields in the state.

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Virginia: FastForward Virginia

Virginia: FastForward Virginia

Barrier: Financial barriers for institutions and students to implementing industry certification training programs on campus. Solution: Virginia has developed a grant program for students and institutions called FastForward. This program provides funding to institutions in order to defray the cost of non-credit training which results in an industry certification. Students pay one-third of the total cost of the program upon enrollment (up to $1,500). Institutions receive one-third of the cost of the program when students finish the training program and another third when students receive the relevant industry certification, up to a total of $3,000 from the state. Although not yet implemented, the state is also developing a way for students to convert the industry credentials they receive as part of the FastForward program into college credit.

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West Virginia: PLA-Focused Degrees

West Virginia: PLA-Focused Degrees

Barrier: Individual institutions and faculty often view granting credit for prior learning as lost tuition revenue. Solution: West Virginia has developed both associate- and bachelor’s-level (called the Board of Governor’s Associate in Applied Science and Regent’s Bachelor of Arts, respectively) which are designed to grant credit to students for their prior work-based learning in a systemized and streamlined way. These degrees utilize statewide lists of industry certifications for which students can earn standardized credits toward earning their degree upon enrollment to either of the two degree programs.

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U.S. Department of Education: Federal Funding

U.S. Department of Education: Federal Funding

Barrier: Fees associated with prior learning assessment are ineligible for Title IV funds under current federal financial aid regulations. Even a small fee associated with a course assessment could be a deterrent for low-income students if they could take a semester-long course covered by financial aid. Solution: The United States Department of Education conducted an Experimental Sites Initiative whereby they authorized federal financial aid to be eligible to be used for prior learning assessment. Twenty-seven institutions participated in the experiment as of 2017, including both non-profit and for-profit institutions. While this was a federal initiative, states could replicate this effort to bolster the awarding and cost credit for prior learning at public institutions.

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Resources

NJPlace 2.0 Request for Proposals

New Jersey’s NJPLACE 2.0 grant program provides grants to institutions to develop degree apprenticeships in specified high wage, high growth fields in the state.

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FastForward Virginia Program Website

Virginia grant program for students and institutions that provides funding to institutions in order to defray the cost of non-credit training which results in an industry certification.

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West Virginia Board of Governor's Associate in Applied Science Handbook

West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education

Handbook for the West Virginia Board of Governor's Associate of Applied Science.

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WEST VIRGINIA REGENTS BACHELOR OF ARTS HANDBOOK

WV Higher Education Policy Commission

Handbook for West Virginia's Regents Bachelor of Arts.

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Summary of the Experimental Sites Initiative

U.S. Department of Education

Overview of the U.S. Department of Education's Experimental Sites Initiative whereby they authorized federal financial aid to be eligible to be used for prior learning assessment.

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Early Successes and Lessons from the U.S. Department of Education's Experimental Sites Initiative

CAEL

Brief highlighting the experiences and successful results of the experiment so far, while also pointing to how this new application of federal financial aid might be best supported nationally.

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