Under Secretary of Education Touts Ashland University Efforts to Make Higher Education More Affordable
ASHLAND, Ohio -- The U.S. Under Secretary of Education Dr. Martha Kanter visited the Ashland University campus 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” in which she noted that the U.S. Department of Education selected Ashland University as the location of the Town Hall because of the University’s recent development of programs in response to student and family financial concerns.
During her 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 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.
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.
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.
From 2003 to 2009, Kanter served as chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, one of the largest community college districts in the nation, serving more than 45,000 students with a total budget of approximately $400 million. She is the first community college leader to serve in the Under Secretary position.
Under Secretary Kanter holds a doctorate in organization and leadership from the University of San Francisco. Her dissertation addressed demographic, institutional, and assessment factors affecting access to higher education for underrepresented students in California's community colleges.
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.