U.S. Official Touts Ashland University Efforts to Make Higher Education More Affordable

U.S. Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter held a Town Hall meeting on Ashland University’s campus Feb. 29 and said Ashland University’s recent efforts to make higher education more affordable are an example for colleges nationwide to follow.

Ashland, OH, March 04, 2012 --(PR.com)-- The U.S. Under Secretary of Education Dr. Martha Kanter visited the Ashland University campus on Feb. 29 to recognize Ashland University for its recent efforts to make college more affordable.

Dr. Kanter gave the keynote address at a town hall meeting on “College Affordability and Quality” and also held a news conference in which she noted that the U.S. Department of Education selected Ashland University as the location of her Town Hall meeting because of the University’s recent development of programs in response to student and family financial concerns.

During the news conference, Dr. Kanter outlined these recent Ashland University programs and actions, which included:

» Reducing the number of credit hours needed to earn a bachelor's degree from 128 to 120.

» Instituting a three-year degree program that will allow students to earn a quality private education in less time and for less money.

» Establishing a four-year graduation guarantee program that will help keep college costs predictable for families.

» Approving a more than 17 percent increase in merit-based scholarship awards for incoming freshmen in 2012-13.

» Launching an accelerated accounting degree program that allows students to complete bachelor's and master's programs in less time.

» Approving a total of 1.1 percent increase in tuition, room and board fees for the coming academic year, the lowest increase on record in school history.

During her keynote address, Dr. Kanter said Ashland University has set an example for colleges nationwide to follow. “You can look at any number of things that have happened here at this university and say, ‘This is an island of excellence.’ I want a country of excellence. That’s what we need,” she said.

She said her goal is to find and replicate ideas for improving college access, affordability, quality and completion.

“The ideas really don’t come from Washington. They come from places like this and partnerships with all of the entities I’ve talked about,” she said. Those entities include students, faculty, administrators, businesses and government.

Dr. Kanter also discussed a variety of initiatives to advance President Barack Obama's goal to have "the best educated, most competitive workforce in the world by 2020" as measured by the proportion of college graduates.

She said innovative efforts like Ashland University's accelerated degree programs will expand higher education access and get students in the workforce faster. "If you have a college degree, you're twice as likely to be employed as someone with only a high school diploma," Dr. Kanter said.

She said college graduates, on average, earn $200,000 to $1 million more over their lifetimes. "Every student graduating will put more money into the economy, will be a much better contributor to our society and will produce breakthroughs and innovations," Dr. Kanter said.

In the morning, Dr. Kanter met with 80 superintendents and principals from around Ohio, which she said produced a “really rich” conversation about ways to make sure students graduate from high school and are prepared for the next step.

Kanter, who was nominated to this position by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate in June of 2009, reports to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. She oversees policies, programs, and activities related to postsecondary education, adult and career-technical education, and federal student aid.

In her first three years as Under Secretary, Kanter oversaw a successful scaling up of the Direct Student Loan program saving taxpayers tens of billions of dollars in the process and financing a 50-percent increase in the number of Pell Grant recipients nationwide. She and her team are spearheading the Obama administration’s effort to cap federal student loan payments at less than 10 percent of income beginning this year and ensure full loan forgiveness for those engaged in public service work.

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2012, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.

Ashland University
Steve Hannan