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ODU-TCC-Kempsville High Share SCHEV "Pathways" Grant

By Brendan O'Hallarn

Old Dominion University led one of the winning bids in a statewide grant program aimed at creating affordable pathways to higher education and improving the rates at which they receive a degree, certificate or workforce credential.

Old Dominion, Tidewater Community College and Kempsville High School have received $140,000 through the Affordable Pathways Partnership Grant Awards.

The program will offer students a path from the high school's Entrepreneurship and Business Academy through enrollment in TCC's business and entrepreneurship program to ODU's leadership major. It will use online and other resources rather than textbooks to reduce costs for students.

"Today's higher education environment demands that we are flexible, responsive and innovative in meeting the needs of our students and communities. This project demonstrates a collaborative approach to meeting these demands," said Brian Payne, Old Dominion's vice provost for academic affairs.

The proposal builds on the "Z-Degree" program created by TCC, which provides students access to textbook-free associate degrees. "TCC was the first accredited institution of higher learning in the United States to offer a zero-cost textbook degree. While we see the obvious benefits for our students, it has always been our hope to inspire other faculty and institutions to replicate what we've accomplished," said Daniel DeMarte, TCC's vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer.

"The increasing cost of textbooks has been a major source of concern for students, especially students from underrepresented populations and economically disadvantaged backgrounds," said Old Dominion Provost Augustine O. Agho. "This initiative is consistent with our plans to reduce the burden of textbook costs for students."

This program will include three components:

  • The development of a pathway that transitions the Tidewater Community College associate's degree earned through dual enrollment with Kempsville's Entrepreneurship and Business Academy to Old Dominion University's undergraduate major in leadership;

  • The development of 12 textbook-free courses in ODU's leadership major; and

  • The development of an infrastructure to expand this pathway to other degrees and other high school programs.

For students who earn a bachelor's degree through this pathway, full tuition could be as low as $16,725. The textbook costs for students could be reduced from an average of $5,000 to zero.

The ODU-TCC-Kempsville proposal was one of five funded in Virginia's higher-education system.

The grants, part of a program announced by Gov. Terry McAuliffe this summer, aim to improve transitions from high school to postsecondary education, reduce costs and increase completion rates.

"These programs will increase economic mobility and opportunity for students and save families time and money," McAuliffe said. "Earning a college degree or workforce credential has become vital for success in the new economy. Programs like these will provide students new and better ways to gain an advanced education faster and more efficiently."

The five programs are expected to save students an average of $10,600 toward completing their degrees or credentials, with an expected cumulative savings of $4.3 million for the first cohort of students. The one-time investment of $661,000 in grant funds, combined with the requirement that they result in fully sustainable programs at the end of the grant term, will allow these savings to continue for students for many years.

The pathways program is administered through the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) and funded through the Fund for Excellence and Innovation.

"One of the Council's top priorities is to enhance pathways for students at all levels," said G. Gilmer Minor III, the chair of SCHEV. "We thank the governor and the General Assembly for supporting this effort through these Affordable Pathways grants."

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