DirectConnect: Florida residents at Valencia College, a community college based in Orlando, can automatically transfer to the city’s University of Central Florida to earn a bachelor’s degree. The brainchild of the two college presidents, this program gives students a chance to start earning their degree at a cheaper, smaller school and then gain access to a four-year institution, letting them transfer all of their community-college credits.
Read an in-depth profile of DirectConnect here.
HAIL Scholarship: This new form of financial aid, called the High Achieving Involved Leaders Scholarship, pays full tuition and fees at the University of Michigan for low-income students with excellent grades from around the state. It's a pilot project developed with the help of Susan Dynarski, a professor of education, public policy, and economics at the university. The scholarship, totaling $60,000 over four years, includes help with the application process and fees. The money for the program comes out of the university’s financial-aid budget.
New College of Florida: Florida is in the middle of an experiment in tying the funding of public colleges and universities to the number of students who graduate. New College, in Sarasota, is one of a handful of places trying so-called performance-based funding, decreed by the state to encourage schools to make sure that students don't fall behind. How well the idea works isn’t clear yet, but it has drawn bipartisan support—from President Obama as well as from Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a conservative Republican. “The policy so aligns with national concerns about the cost and payoff of a college education that it’s likely here to stay,” said a recent article in Stateline, a publication of the Pew Charitable Trusts.
P-Tech: This Brooklyn public high school is trying to upend the traditional high school experience by partnering with a business—IBM, in this case—to teach students the skills they’ll need to succeed in the 21st-century workplace. Besides the school’s emphasis on math and science, P-Tech awards students an associate’s degree after an additional two years of education. And, it’s free—a boon to the primarily low-income, minority student body.
Read an in-depth profile of P-Tech here.
Starbucks: The coffee giant created a buzz in mid-2014 when it announced a partnership with Arizona State University to allow employees to earn degrees online, with the company picking up part of the tab. For its more than 130,000 U.S. employees who work at least 20 hours a week, the company hopes to help them further their education by earning a bachelor’s degree.
Tennessee Promise: This statewide program, originally pitched by the state’s Republican governor, offers a free community college education to all Tennessee high school students who maintain a “C” average. Financed by a state lottery, the program is expected to help 16,000 to 18,000 students start community college this year. Officials see it as a way to make community college available to low-income students whose parents didn’t pursue higher education.