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American Council on Education $400K grant to retain non-traditional students

70 percent of current students are non-traditional.

4/23/2014, 12:20 p.m. | Updated on 4/23/2014, 12:20 p.m.

Non-traditional students are far less likely to attain a post-secondary degree, and 70 percent of current students are non-traditional.

The American Council on Education has selected nine four-year colleges and universities from among its member institutions to receive funding from one of its supporters, the Lumina Foundation, to increase non-traditional student attainment rates.

A non-traditional student is broadly defined as exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics: over the age of 20 upon initial enrollment, GED in lieu of high school diploma, dependent child or a dependent spouse, works full-time, independent of their parent’s income, or enrolled in school part-time.

Meeting two or three of these criteria makes a student moderately non-traditional, and having four or more of these conditions makes a student highly non-traditional. Most moderately non-traditional students are older than traditional age and are independent of their parent’s income.

Enrollment in post-secondary education among other types of non-traditional students, such as GED recipients or full-time jobholders, has decreased over the years.

The Lumina Foundation endowment of $400,000 will fund an 18-month study, called the Change Innovation Lab, to develop best practices for non-traditional student retention and attainment. One of the nine schools selected to participate in the Change Innovation Lab is Cambridge College.