Capella approved to participate in latest round of experimental sites

January 13, 2015

This round of experimental sites, announced in July, will allow at least 40 colleges to experiment with competency-based education and prior learning assessment, granting them a waiver from certain rules that govern federal financial aid.

Capella was approved by the Department of Education to participate in the three Experimental Site Initiatives for which we applied: Aid for Prior Learning Assessments; Disbursements to Students Enrolled in Competency Based Education” and the Limited Direct Assessment (“Hybrid”) experiment.

We’re very excited to partner with the Department on shaping future higher education policy.

For more information on the experimental sites, please see Paul Fain’s article in Inside Higher Ed.

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Balancing the Funding Equation: A Simplified College Financial Support Model

Late last year, the Lumina Foundation hosted a challenge soliciting proposals for how we might rethink the student financing system in the US. As our country prepares to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, it is a great time to be asking the community about ways to reimagine the financial aid system. Capella University’s submission, entitled “Balancing the Funding Equation: A Simplified College Financial Support Model,” built upon the themes of simplicity, transparency and shared responsibility.

Capella’s paper highlighted the need for a simplified system where students are able to understand their enrollment and repayment options, with more work being done to get information to prospective students earlier in the process. Moving to an aid application model built on the usage of prior-prior year data would help students better prepare for their college costs, and cost and outcomes data provided to prospective students needs to be applicable to all students – adult, returning, working professionals, students with military commitments and more.

Capella also recommended condensing the current aid system into a one grant/one loan/one work study program model, where funds are flexible enough to cover a variety of enrollment patterns. Student loans should have no hidden fees and schools should have the authority to limit borrowing. The Federal Work Study program should be expanded, with the funding allocation formula updated to ensure equity across schools and help limit student loan borrowing. Federal student loan repayment should be simplified, with one traditional and one income-driven repayment plan, consisting of an auto-enroll function for severely delinquent borrowers.

Today’s higher education funding system needs to be rooted in privacy-protected, risk-adjusted outcomes data across all institutions, in order to understand  what returns taxpayers are getting for their investment in higher education, and to make sound policy decisions. Access to this data would allow for the creation of a Pell Grant risk-sharing system, based on the percentage of students eligible for Pell Grants who stop without graduating (or returning to school) within two years. This approach not only requires financial buy-in from schools where low-income students are not graduating, but also accounts for schools serving high-risk populations.

Capella is glad to have joined in the conversation around rethinking student financing. There is no single approach to this problem, but there are many practical and reasonable steps that can be taken to make the system work more effectively. We look forward to continuing the dialog as higher education funding is of growing concern in this country.

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President Scott Kinney participates in The New York Times’ Schools for Tomorrow Conference

September 12, 2014

Today’s guest post is from Capella University President Scott Kinney. 

This week, I was honored to be a part of the New York Times’ Schools for Tomorrow conference in New York.

I participated in a panel on the state of the online university and what lies ahead for online education. Joining me on the panel were Dr. Robert Mendenhall, president and CEO of Western Governors University, Paul LeBlanc, president of Southern New Hampshire University, and Rafael Bras, provost of Georgia Institute of Technology. The panel was moderated by David Leonhardt, editor of The Upshot of the New York Times.

NYTSFT Kinney

Much of the panel’s discussion focused on the potential of competency-based programs, specifically the opportunity that programs like Capella’s FlexPath offer to reduce cost and time and improve outcomes. We also talked about the need to improve the alignment of educational outcomes to the needs of employers, and the ability of online programs to personalize learning and utilize data to improve learner success. The full panel session is available here.

Another highlight of the conference was a discussion between David Leonhardt and Ted Mitchell, Undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Education, about the Department’s plan to create a college rating system that, in addition to other metrics, assesses value for the tuition dollar. Mr. Mitchell gave a shout out to Capella for being a leader of the innovation movement, and for participating in the experimental site initiative. The segment on innovation starts at minute 19:59, and Capella is specially called out at minute 21:47.

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#CapellaGrad – Capella Commencement

August 20, 2014

Today’s guest post is from Capella’s public relations manager, Alicia Amling, on our commencement this past weekend in Minneapolis.

Last weekend, we had over 800 learners and their families join us in Minneapolis to celebrate commencement. This is the event I most look forward to during the year! I met so many graduates with inspiring stories about persevering through life’s challenges while keeping their educational journey a priority. Experiencing commencement first-hand, meeting with the graduates’ families and just listening to their stories is life changing.

Commencement weekend kicked off with a meet-and-greet event. This was an opportunity for graduates to spend time with the faculty who have supported them through their educational journey. For many, this event was the first time they have met face-to-face! It was touching to see how strong their bond was, even if they had never met in person. There were hugs and smiles in every direction.

A fun new component of the meet and greet this year was the social media lounge. It was a great opportunity for graduates—and faculty—to learn more about Capella’s social media sites and how they can use those sites to network and connect. We had a phenomenal team of Capella employee volunteers who stepped in as social media gurus, chatting all things social media and snapping pictures of the grads’ special moments.

In addition, the commencement team organized a touching military reception, where Capella University President Scott Kinney honored our military graduates.

Friday evening, graduates and their families gathered with the Capella University Board and faculty for dinner and a celebration. Souled, a Motown tribute band, performed, and it was a huge hit! During dinner, we hosted live tweeting on large screens for families, faculty, employees and graduates to give shout-outs and share in the fun using the hashtag #CapellaGrad.

Saturday was THE DAY! We had two commencement ceremonies, one in the morning for the School of Undergraduate Studies, the School of Business and Technology, and the School of Education, and one in the afternoon for the Harold Abel School of Social and Behavioral Sciences and School of Public Service Leadership. Many graduates and families joined us virtually through the live-stream at www.capella.edu/watchcommencement, as well—it was great to see the support pouring in from around the country. Commencement speaker Hill Harper, an award-winning actor, bestselling author and philanthropist, gave a great speech on what it takes to succeed despite challenges one may encounter along the way. It hit the perfect note for Capella’s adult learners who have balanced many priorities in their life while striving for academic excellence.

It was so inspiring to meet and talk with our graduates and their families. The pride and excitement was infectious—I feel so lucky to work for an institution that gets to serve these learners! Looking back at commencement, I feel even more dedicated to Capella and its mission to give adult learners the opportunity to reach their dreams and explore their full potential.

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Additional FlexPath programs approved by the Department of Education

August 6, 2014

I’m excited to announce that the U.S. Department of Education informed us this week that four additional degree programs have been approved in our FlexPath learning model.

The newly approved degree programs in FlexPath, which also have been approved by our regional accreditor, The Higher Learning Commission, are:

Bachelor of Science (BS) in Information Technology;

Master of Science (MS) in Information Systems and Technology Management;

Bachelor of Science (BS) in Psychology; and

Master of Science (MS) in Psychology.

We’re excited to provide further opportunity within our direct-assessment programs to give learners control over the pace of their progress, substantially reduce the cost and time required for degree completion, and better align learning with the needs of learners and employers.

Great news for Capella and, more importantly, for the learners we serve. Please see our news release for more information.

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